Climate change: What if it gets worse?
No 71 • 12 May 2022
Although a significantly stronger global temperature increase is to be feared , climate research is apparently still too much concerned with the so-called two-degree target of international climate policy. A team of researchers from the Justus Liebig University Giessen (JLU), the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics in Potsdam and the University of Cambridge now expresses their concern that the focus on climate change research might not be on point in a current article in the scientific journal "Earth's Future".
In their article, the researchers refer to the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), for which tens of thousands of scientific articles are regularly evaluated and which reflect the current state of climate research. The researchers from Giessen, Potsdam and Cambridge used automated text analysis procedures to examine all IPCC reports published to date. The results showed a clear trend: half of the first four reports (published 1990-2007) deal with a temperature increase of more than two degrees Celsius and the other half with a lower temperature increase. However, in the fifth (2013) and sixth (2021) reports, the proportion of temperature rises of less than two degrees Celsius considered jumps to 60 and 80 percent, respectively.
The team of authors raises the question of why the scientific community is currently primarily concerned with projections that assume the targeted, limited global warming, while there are many indications that the temperature increase is likely to be significantly higher. The International Energy Agency, for example, predicts that the measures currently being taken to combat climate change will lead to a rise of at least 2.4 degrees, but it get as high as 2.8 degrees. First author Dr. Florian Ulrich Jehn from the Institute of Landscape Ecology and Resource Management at JLU comments: "As long as we are moving towards a stronger global temperature increase, this should be the focus of research."
Florian U. Jehn, Luke Kemp, Ekaterina Ilin, Christoph Funk, Jason R. Wang, Lutz Breuer: „Focus of the IPCC Assessment Reports Has Shifted to Lower Temperatures“, Earth’s Future, 06 May 2022
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