The first is a policy and review paper on climate change written by Katherine Wells, entitled “Recent Climate Change Science, Global Targets and the Global Climate Emergency“.
Katherine, a lawyer, is a former Chair of the South Australian Premier’s main environmental advisory board, the Premier’s Round Table on Sustainability, and a former National Vice-President of the Australian Conservation Foundation. She is currently a Climate Change Consultant in Adelaide. Her 19- page overview struck me as one of the more succinct, thoughtful and readable updates of the recent science of climate change — written in a manner suitable for an intelligent lay audience — that I have read. I thoroughly recommend that you download and read it. Here is the summary:
Climate change impacts are occurring faster and with more severity than predicted only several years ago. At the same time, the world’s emissions are increasing at rates greater than predicted, and the alarming rates of emissions reductions required to avoid dangerous levels of climate change are becoming more apparent. The time-frames within which we can take effective action are shrinking rapidly, and now appear to be so tight as to require that we take world-wide emergency action, or prepare to face catastrophic levels of climate change.
This paper considers:
• some key findings of recent climate science
• some key climate indicators, and how they have been tracking recently
• whether a rise in the average global temperature of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is an appropriate threshold for ‘dangerous’ climate change
• what targets for atmospheric CO2e concentrations (ie, atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases) are necessary to limit the temperature rise to 2 degrees, and (alternatively) to stabilise the temperature at less than 1 degree above pre-industrial levels
• what targets for global emissions reductions, and other actions, are necessary to achieve these atmospheric CO2e concentrations targets, and
• the way in which time-lines in the climate change arena are shrinking:
- the impacts of climate change are getting worse more rapidly than predicted
- key climate indicators are providing great cause for concern
- the magnitude of the emissions reduction task is becoming more apparent