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Climate disasters increase risks of armed conflicts: new evidence
02/04/2020 - The risk for violent clashes increases after weather extremes such as droughts or floods hit people in vulnerable countries, an international team of scientists finds. Vulnerable countries are characterized by a large population, political exclusion of particular ethnic groups, and low development. The study combines global statistical analysis, observation data and regional case study assessments to yield new evidence for policy-makers.
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From forests to peatlands: once lost, ecosystem carbon stores might not be recoverable in time
01/04/2020 - Huge amounts of carbon are stored in ecosystems like peatlands, mangroves, old-growth forests and marshes, which play a crucial role for our Earth system. Once released due to land use changes like the conversion to agriculture, this carbon could be not be recoverable within time to avoid global warming beyond 1,5 degrees Celsius, a new study led by Conservation International shows. Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, is one of the authors. These land areas should be particularly protected, the researchers argue in the journal Nature Climate Change.
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Regional nuclear war a risk for global food security
16/03/2020 - Even a limited nuclear war could have dangerous effects far beyond the region that is fatally hit. It would result in global cooling that substantially reduces agricultural production in the world’s main breadbasket regions, from the US, to Europe, Russia, and China. The particular effect on food security worldwide including trade responses has now for the first time been revealed by an international team of scientists in a study based on advanced computer simulations. The sudden temperature reduction would lead to a food system shock unprecedented in documented history. It would not undo long-term climate change from fossil fuels use, though – after about a decade of cooling, global warming would surge again.
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Identifiying crises through network connections: Nature Physics publication
27/02/2020 - From a Wuhan market to Europe and the US: A chain of infection enabled the spread of coronavirus. Trade and travel played the deciding role. Events that have been locally confined in the past are today damaging the global economy. When local networks become internationally connected, scientists call this percolation. An international team of researchers now developed a mathematical approach to better predict when percolation arises and disappears. Their findings have been published in the highly renowned journal Nature Physics this month.
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Focus on food to address climate change
18/02/2020 - Bringing together agricultural production, supply chains, and consumption: In a comment published in the new journal Nature Food researchers discuss a new global food system approach to climate change research. When these activities are considered together, they represent 21 to 37 percent of total human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, the authors note. This new approach also enables a fuller assessment of the vulnerability of the global food system to increasing droughts, intensifying heatwaves, heavier downpours, and exacerbated coastal flooding. Food system responses thus play a major role in both adapting to and mitigating climate change, the authors assert.
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PIK again among the world's best climate think tanks
31/01/2020 - For 2019, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) was again one of the most influential think tanks in the field of environmental policy. That is the result of this year's "Global Go To Think Tank Index Report" published by the University of Pennsylvania. The ranking includes more than 6,500 institutions worldwide.
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Buildings can become a global CO2 sink if made out of wood instead of cement and steel
A material revolution replacing cement and steel in urban construction by wood can have double benefits for climate stabilization, a new study shows. First, it can avoid greenhouse gas emissions from cement and steel production. Second, it can turn buildings into a carbon sink as they store the CO2 taken up from the air by trees that are harvested and used as engineered timber. However while the required amount of timber harvest is available in theory, such an upscaling would clearly need most careful, sustainable forest management and governance, the international team of authors stresses.
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Climate costs smallest if warming is limited to 2°C
27/01/2020 - Climate costs are likely smallest if global warming is limited to 2 degrees Celsius. The politically negotiated Paris Agreement is thus also the economically sensible one, Potsdam researchers find in a new study. Using computer simulations of a model by US Nobel Laureate William Nordhaus, they weight climate damages from, for instance, increasing weather extremes or decreasing labour productivity against the costs of cutting greenhouse gas emission by phasing out coal and oil. Interestingly, the economically most cost-efficient level of global warming turns out to be the one more than 190 nations signed as the Paris Climate Agreement. So far however, CO2 reductions promised by nations worldwide are insufficient to reach this goal.
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Rockström as one Voice of Science at Davos World Economic Forum
21/01/2020 – After a year of climate change making headlines, the global leaders’ meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos, too, has climate change written in large letters on its programme. Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research is one of the scientists present to make the voice of science heard.
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Tipping mechanisms could spark profound societal change towards climate stabilization: new study
21/01/2020 - Limiting global warming to well below 2°C requires a decarbonized world by 2050 at the latest and a corresponding global transformation of the energy and land use systems of societies across the world. To achieve this goal of net-zero carbon by 2050 emissions need to be cut by half every decade from now on. An interdisciplinary team of researchers now explored tipping mechanisms that have the potential to spark rapid yet constructive societal changes towards climate stabilization and overall sustainability. These tipping elements and mechanisms could bring about a transition that is fast enough for meeting the targets of the Paris climate agreement. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) the scientists identify six socio-economic tipping elements and related interventions that could bring such a transition to a deep and rapid global decarbonization on its way.
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