2013-12-03. Report warns of climate change ‘tipping points’ within our lifetime.

posted Dec 5, 2013, 9:35 PM by Alan Gould

 For GSS Climate Change chapter 8. Excerpt:  UC Berkeley’s Tony Barnosky joined climate scientists this morning at a press conference at the National Academy of Sciences ...to summarize a new report issued today focusing on the short-term effects of climate change and the need to monitor them closely. “Our report focuses on abrupt change, ...things that happen within a few years to decades: basically, over short enough time scales that young people living today would see the societal impacts brought on by faster-than-normal planetary changes,” said Barnosky in an email. Barnosky is professor of integrative biology and a member of the Berkeley Initiative in Global Change Biology (BIGCB). The report, “Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises,” [http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=18373] is available from the National Research Council, part of the National Academies. Abrupt changes are already apparent, the authors noted: the number of serious wildfires has increased dramatically over the past decade, farmers are noticing hotter average temperatures that affect their crop yields, animals and plants are moving up mountainsides to reach cooler temperatures, and the Arctic sea ice is melting back more and more each summer. ...global change could also lead to economic and social impacts, much of this centered around food and water resources and the likelihood of international conflict to secure them. ...Barnosky was the lead author of a 2012 paper [http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2012/06/06/scientists-uncover-evidence-of-impending-tipping-point-for-earth/] that warned of a global tipping point at which Earth’s systems would irreversibly change as a result of changing climate. ...“Luckily, there is still time to slow climate change if we start dramatic cutbacks to greenhouse gas emissions now,” Barnosky wrote. “That will allow us to avoid the worst-case tipping point scenarios, but that window of opportunity will only be open for another few years, if we continue to change climate at the rate we have been.” [See also: video "Earth May Reach Tipping Point -- http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2012/06/06/scientists-uncover-evidence-of-impending-tipping-point-for-earth/http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2013/12/03/report-warns-of-climate-change-tipping-points-within-our-lifetime/. Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley News Center.