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Feeding the world without wrecking the planet is possible
20/01/2020 - Almost half of current food production is harmful to our planet – causing biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation and water stress. But as world population continues to grow, can that last? A study led by researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) now suggests a comprehensive solution package for feeding 10 billion people within our planet’s environmental boundaries. Supplying a sufficient and healthy diet for every person whilst keeping our biosphere largely intact will require no less than a technological and socio-cultural U-turn. It includes adopting radically different ways of farming, reduction of food waste, and dietary changes. The study's publication coincides with the World Economic Forum in Davos and the International Green Week in Berlin, the world's biggest food and agriculture fair.
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Nature Magazine Editorial: Research decade must focus on climate
13/01/2020 - Helping to limit anthropogenic global warming should be a prime task of science in the 2020s. “The coming decade must focus on climate change”, states a recent editorial of the world-leading scientific journal Nature. The 2010s saw breakthroughs in artificial intelligence via deep-learning technologies, in life sciences through the reprogramming of mature cells into stem cells, in physics with gravitational-wave detection and progress on quantum computing. While this was remarkable, the editors proclaim that “with new knowledge, and a renewed dedication to social and environmental responsibility, the 2020s must be transformational”.
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PIK research among the top 20 most-discussed papers worldwide in 2019, according to Altmetric
17/12/2019 - The EAT Lancet report by PIK director Johan Rockström and others was published in January 2019 in the medical journal The Lancet. Lighting up paths to feeding a world population of 10 billion people while respecting our planet’s boundaries and our health has earned the paper an enormous amount of online attention and debate, ranking on place 18 of the 100 biggest science stories of 2019.
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Artificial Intelligence: applying ‚Deep Reinforcement Learning‘ for sustainable development
20/12/2019 - For the first time, a specific way of machine learning has been used to find novel pathways for sustainable development. So far, the so-called 'Deep Reinforcement Learning' has mostly been used to make computers excel in certain games, such as AlphaGo, or navigate robots through rough terrain. Now, scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research developed a mathematical framework combining recently developed machine learning techniques with more classical analysis of trajectories in computer simulations of the global climate system and the global economy. The results, published in the interdisciplinary journal on nonlinear phenomena 'Chaos', are promising.
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Planetary boundaries: Interactions in the Earth system amplify human impacts
16/12/2019 - What we do to one part of our Earth system does not just add to what we do to other parts – transgressing one planetary boundary can amplify human impacts on another one. For the first time, an international team of scientists now quantified some of the planetary-scale interactions in the Earth system. These biophysical interactions have in fact almost doubled direct human impacts on the nine planetary boundaries, from climate change to freshwater use. This insight can now be applied in policy design for safeguarding the livelihoods of generations to come.
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COP25 climate summit: "weak outcome"
15.12.2019 - This weekend, the world climate summit COP25 in Madrid ran overtime to come to much debated decisions. Together, the two Directors of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research issued a statement to comment on the outcome. "This is a minimum compromise," says Earth system scientist Johan Rockström. Climate economist Ottmar Edenhofer adds: "The weak outcome of COP25 is sad but no surprise. It highlights that the next world climate summit in Glasgow really needs to be the turning point it is scheduled to be in the 2015 Paris Agreement timetable."
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Numerical analysis of global economic impacts
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COP25: PIK experts in Madrid
02.12.2019 - "Time for Action": About 25,000 delegates from all over the world are expected to attend the UN Climate Conference COP25 from December 2-13 in Madrid, Spain. "We stand at a critical juncture in our collective efforts to limit dangerous global heating", UN General Secretary António Guterres said at the Opening Ceremony of COP25 in the Spanish Capital. "Millions throughout the world – especially young people – are calling on leaders from all sectors to do more, much more, to address the climate emergency we face. They know we need to get on the right path today, not tomorrow. That means important decisions must be made now," he stressed in his remarks.
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Ten PIK researchers among the most influential scientists worldwide: ranking
29.11.2019 - According to a new Clarivate ranking, ten scientists from all research areas of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) are among the most cited researchers worldwide. This places them among the most influential scientists in the world, and their studies rank among the top 1% of scientific literature. Whether natural or social sciences, PIK is among the most renowned research institutions in Germany and worldwide, as the recently published ranking shows.
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Climate tipping points – too risky to bet against
28/11/2019 - From the Greenland and West-Antarctic ice sheets to coral reefs or the Amazon rainforest – a number of critical elements in the Earth system could be more likely to tip than was previously thought, a group of leading scientists warns in in the highly renowned journal Nature. Evidence is mounting that these events are also more interconnected, which could eventually lead to domino effects. A possible tipping cascade of irreversible changes might put the livelihoods of people around the world at risk and marks a state of planetary emergency, the authors argue in their comment.
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