Spring 2018: Introduction to Mitigation and Adaptation Studies

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Class 5 (01/24/2018): System Thinking

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Summary

The system is in a transition to a high-energy state, with potential severe changes in meteorological and hydrological hazards. The relationships found in the long-term baseline also indicate that the recent and projected rapid climate change has committed humanity to a large sea level rise during the next centuries unparalleled by all changes experienced by civilization. Over time, this change in sea level will lead to major shifts in the present-day coastline, with little options to protect large areas of the current coastal zone against inundation. Considering that in general coastal zones are highly productive and urban areas are growing much faster in coastal zones than in other regions, a rapid sea level rise would cause many local and regional disasters with globally devastating consequences.

How can we explore possible futures? A system of systems view on the Earth system and the embedded anthroposphere provides a theoretical framework to research the nature of feedback loops and their role for future developments in the earth system. Scenario-based simulations can be used to explore possible the future and provide guidance for the development of interventions that bring the system closer to desirable futures.

Reading List

Barnosky et al., 2012

Carpenter et al., 2005

Hansen et al., 2016

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