Catastrophic non-linear impacts of climate change

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Scope

The assessment on catastrophic non-linear impacts of climate change assesses such a part of climate change that are both catastrophic on either regional or global scale, and are inherently non-linear due to e.g. positive feedback effects. The assessment focuses on near-term future, i.e. the next ten-fifteen years. The motivation for this is to assess impacts that might be unlikely, but if realised, would cause very severe impacts. Non-linearity makes it especially difficult to see early warnings of these threats and thus start actions to prevent aggravation. Therefore, these threats should be approached using predictive modelling and risk analysis and then proactive measures. In the case of catastrophic non-linear impacts, it is just too late to target actions reactively to problems that are observable.

Attacking climate change is a century-long effort, and long-term policies are needed to gear the whole world economy away from greenhouse-gas-intensive energy and land-use processes. These are definitely needed, but it is not enough. The mankind should first survive the next hundred years to be able to enjoy the fruits of the century-long policy. This development might be severely threatened by catastrophic non-linear impacts that originate from the existing pressures (e.g. the excess CO2 that is already in the atmosphere).

Definition

Boundaries

  • Spatial: the whole World
  • Temporal: ca. 2007-2022
  • Impacts:
    • Health impacts on population level (public health)
    • Ecological impacts on the level of ecosystem survival and biodiversity
    • Economic impacts on world trade
    • Resource impacts on the stocks of renewable and non-renewable resources, including the land as a resource

Scenarios

The assessment may evaluate several policy options. The following policy options have been suggested so far.

  • The reduction of car traffic by using composite traffic[1].
  • A new taxation policy that is based on scientifically estimated unit emissions of greenhouse gases of different product types.
  • Delivering sulphate particles into the stratosphere by air planes to decrease solar energy intensity on the Earth surface and thus reduce the global warming.

Intended users

  • Politicians and authorities all over the world
  • Concerned citizens
  • Industry

Participants

Anyone who accepts the rules of this website are allowed to participate.

Decision variables

  • Composite traffic
  • Evidence-based greenhouse gas taxation
  • Stratospheric sulphate particles

Indicators

  • Public health
  • Ecosystem survival
  • Gross global product
  • Resource stocks

Other variables

Analyses

Data

Causality

Unit

Formula

Result

See also

References

  1. Tuomisto JT, Tainio M. (2005). An economic way of reducing health, environmental, and other pressures of urban traffic: a decision analysis on trip aggregation. BMC PUBLIC HEALTH 5: Art. No. 123