During our April Gold Coast Skeptics in the Pub, we heard from Senior Research Fellow Dr Sarah Boulter talks about adaptation and sustainability in a world increasingly affected by climate change. In her talk Dr Boulter provides a comprehensive summary of the recent 5th IPCC report.
One question that often gets asked about climate change is: "But how much is human". Sarah sent us an email after her talk to explain:
"Well the science is quite clear with quite a bit of research put into this for the IPCC 5th Assessment. The research ran the climate models with all climate forcings (including natural forcings like volcanoes, variations in the earth's rotation, sun activity etc) and without human forcings (i.e. greenhouse gas emissions). The results are in the ...graph [below]. So the blue line is from models only using natural forcings (i.e. without human emissions). The line is the average value with blue shading the variation around the mean. The red/pink is models that include both human forcings (emissions) and natural forcings. The grey-black lines are observed temperature measured by three different sources. When human forcings are added to the models they match the climate increase that we have experienced. Put simply, without human emissions our climate would follow the blue line - it would not have warmed...."
Reference: Chapter 10 of the IPCC 5th Assessment to see the full analysis
"...And then there was a query about the graph I showed from the IPCC 1.5 degree report [see below]. The purple plume [panel a] is what happens if net CO2 emissions decline to zero in 2055 BUT non-CO2 emissions (e.g. methane) remain constant (neither increase or decrease) from 2055. In this scenario temperatures plateau out around an average of about 1,5 degrees and the probability of keeping temperature average below 1.5 degrees is lower than if all emissions reduce."
So the science is pretty clear. Climate change is here, and it's our fault. We are already feeling it's impacts. What we need to do is adapt so that the impacts of climate change are minimised - i.e. reduce CO2 emissions to zero as soon as possible before it's too late.
Listen to Sarah's talk: click here
Slides: click here
Useful links from Sarah's Talk:
About the speaker
Dr Sarah Boulter
Senior Research Fellow, National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, Griffith University.
Dr Boulter's work looks at extreme events and the lessons for adaptation, assessment of forest vulnerability and policy guidance. She has also researched the impacts of climate change on plant reproduction and biodiversity in forests and with the Queensland state government in science communication and policy related to vegetation management and impact assessment in Moreton Bay. Her research involves exploring pollination, climate change, biodiversity and insect ecology.