Knowledge for better food systems

The climate debate

In this excellent Guardian article Myles Allen of Oxford University describes and comments on reactions to a paper that he and his colleagues published in the journal Nature Geoscience. Their paper gives a new best estimate for the amount of warming that is expected due to a doubling of GHG concentrations in the atmosphere. It estimates a warming of about 1.3˚C, somewhat lower than previous estimates of 1.8°C.

The paper has been hailed by some climate skeptics as ‘proof’ that climate change does not pose a problem. However, Myles Allen points out in his Guardian article that the new findings simply mean that the changes we had previously expected between now and 2050 might take until 2065 to materialise instead. Then again, they might not: 1.8°C is within the range of uncertainty; and natural variability will in any case affect what happens in the 2050s.

The full citation for the original Nature Geoscience article is:

Alexander Otto, Friederike E. L. Otto, Olivier Boucher, John Church, Gabi Hegerl, Piers M. Forster, Nathan P. Gillett, Jonathan Gregory, Gregory C. Johnson, Reto Knutti, Nicholas Lewis, Ulrike Lohmann, Jochem Marotzke, Gunnar Myhre, Drew Shindell, Bjorn Stevens & Myles R. Allen, (2013) Energy budget constraints on climate response, Nature Geoscience, 6, 415–416

You can download it here (journal subscription needed).

Myles Allen’s Guardian article is here.

The Guardian provides further coverage here.

Carbon Brief provides a very helpful summary here.

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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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