Spring 2018: Introduction to Mitigation and Adaptation Studies

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Class 6 (01/29/2018): Entering the Post-Holocene: The Syndrome: Recent Global and Climate Change

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Summary

During recent centuries, humanity has increasingly modified the land surface and created global change. Particularly during the 20th century, the changes in relevant system parameters, such as global energy usage, population growth, land use change, resource usage, and inequality have been two to three orders of magnitude faster than on average throughout the Holocene before 1900. As a result, the Earth's life-support system has been degraded and global boundaries of the “safe operating space” (SOSH) have been crossed. Among others, climate has change rapidly compared to the baseline mentioned in Class 2. Several climate variables (such as atmospheric carbon dioxide, methane, surface albedo, global air and ocean temperature) are already outside of this normal range, and projection indicate that the climate system is moving rapidly further away from it. Moreover, for most climate-relevant variables, the speed of the changes observed in the 20th century and those projected for the 21st century and beyond exceeds the natural variability documented during the last 1 million years by two orders of magnitude and more.

Reading List

Cheng et al., 2016

IUCN, 2016

Syvitski, 2012

Steffen et al., 2016

Williams et al., 2016

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