IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri Discusses How Climate Change Could Affect 21st Century Society

Few speakers are as well-suited to tackling the challenges and potential risks posed by global climate change than IPCC Chairman Rajendra K. Pachauri. The recent talk he gave at MIT is well worth your time if you've never heard him speak before -- or are just curious about his perspective on the impact of climate change on 21st century society. Here's a short snippet about the key themes he addressed:

Here's Rajendra K. Pachauri's panic-inducing assertion: We have a window of seven years to stabilize CO2 at today's levels if we are to limit our global mean temperature increase to around 2.40C. A world this hot would be a very unpleasant place to be. Pachauri lays out unequivocal" evidence of climate change, and describes how extreme precipitation events, heat waves and other natural catastrophes will become more frequent, endangering vast swaths of humanity. We stand to lose 20-30% of species if warming exceeds 1.5 to 2.5 0C. Pachauri also notes this "scary prospect": the rapid loss of ice sheets on polar land, leading to sea level rises of several meters, and the flight of large populations in response.

Pachauri goes on to describe the steps humanity will need to take in order to adapt to the changing conditions: reforming agriculture, erecting better flooding protection measures, reducing water scarcity and helping developing nations cope. Despite the grim scenario he lays out, Pachauri is hopeful that humans will step up to this immense challenge; he dismisses the doom-mongers by asserting that, "if we start today, we can really make a difference in the next two to three decades."

Stabilizing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels around 500 ppm (for a more ambitious take, head over to Joe Romm's blog or Bill McKibben's 350.org site) by 2030 would incur costs amounting to less than 3% of global GDP, or a paltry .12% annually, Pachauri says. Key to achieving this emissions goal will renewed investment in public transport, renewable energy technologies and more efficient vehicles, he elaborates.

Via ::MIT World: How Would Climate Change Influence Society in the 21st Century? (video)

See also: ::Outsourcing the Climate Skeptics, ::Has the IPCC Outlived its Usefulness?

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