Published on Jan 18, 2017
Humans and our institutions are ill prepared for the multiple timescales of climate change. More than half of the carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels will remain there for a thousand years, and roughly 20% will be there for tens of thousands of years. Even if carbon dioxide emissions ceased today, the climate would continue to warm for hundreds to thousands of years as oceans slowly warm and ice melts. And it will take at least a century to decarbonize our economy, even with ideal political and economic conditions given the scale of infrastructure required. Taking these timescales into account, attention to what has been called “climate adaptation” is essential. This adaptation will also drive profound changes in ecosystems and in social systems.
This talk is part of the Survival symposium, a series of talks focusing on evolution and the challenges of building a better, safer and more survivable future.
- Atmospheric Lifetime of Fossil Fuel Carbon Dioxide | Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences
- Survival: Miles O’Brien Introduction and Presentations for full sequence of talks in the Survival Symposium