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SPECIAL: Planet at risk of heading towards irreversible “Hothouse Earth” state

Planet at risk of heading towards irreversible “Hothouse Earth” stateKeeping global warming to within 1.5-2°C may be more difficult than previously assessed. An international team of scientists has published a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) showing that even if the carbon emission reductions called for in the Paris Agreement are met, there is a risk of the planet entering what the scientists call “Hothouse Earth” conditions. A “Hothouse Earth” climate will in the long term stabilize at a global average of 4-5°C higher than pre-industrial temperatures with sea level 10-60 m higher than today, the paper says. The authors conclude it is now urgent to greatly accelerate the transition towards an emission-free world economy. Read more...

„Scientific foundation for the Paris Agreement“: UNFCCC head Espinosa laudates climate economist Edenhofer

„Scientific foundation for the Paris Agreement“: UNFCCC head Espinosa laudates climate economist Edenhofer

07/05/2018 - In recognition of his outstanding contributions to tackling the climate challenge, Ottmar Edenhofer has been awarded with the Romano Guardini Prize of the Catholic Academy in Bavaria. As chief economist and designated Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) as well as Founding Director of the Mercator Research Institute for Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC), Edenhofer has both advanced the science and served as a political advisor. The Prize has been handed over in Munich in a festive ceremony attended by more than 200 high-ranking guests from politics, science, business, and religion.

„Scientific foundation for the Paris Agreement“: UNFCCC head Espinosa laudates climate economist Edenhofer - Read More…

Clean power is not enough: More climate action in industry, transport and building sectors needed to meet Paris climate targets

Clean power is not enough: More climate action in industry, transport and building sectors needed to meet Paris climate targets

06/25/2018 - Coal power versus wind and solar energy – debates about the Paris climate targets often centre around electricity supply. Yet, even in a world of stringent climate policies and a clean power generation, the remaining use of fossil fuels in industry, transport and heating in buildings could still cause enough CO2 emissions to endanger the climate targets agreed on by the international community, an international team of researchers finds. Published in Nature Climate Change, their elaborate study is the first to focus specifically on the residual fossil fuel emissions from sectors that are not as easily decarbonized as power generation.

Clean power is not enough: More climate action in industry, transport and building sectors needed to meet Paris climate targets - Read More…

Spacefood for cows: Industrial microbes could feed cattle, pigs and chicken with less damage to the environment

Spacefood for cows: Industrial microbes could feed cattle, pigs and chicken with less damage to the environment

06/20/2018 - Deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss, nitrogen pollution – today’s agricultural feed cultivation for cattle, pigs and chicken comes with tremendous impacts for the environment and climate. Cultivating feed in industrial facilities instead of on croplands might help to alleviate the critical implications in the agricultural food supply chain. Protein-rich microbes, produced in large-scale industrial facilities, are likely to increasingly replace traditional crop-based feed. A new study now published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology for the first time estimates the economic and environmental potential of feeding microbial protein to pigs, cattle and chicken on a global scale. The researchers find that by replacing only 2 percent of livestock feed by protein-rich microbes, more than 5 percent of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, global cropland area and global nitrogen losses could each be decreased.

Spacefood for cows: Industrial microbes could feed cattle, pigs and chicken with less damage to the environment - Read More…

Mix it: Policy combination needed to achieve climate targets along with sustainable development goals

Mix it: Policy combination needed to achieve climate targets along with sustainable development goals

06/20/2018 - A broad combination of policies might be best suited to help achieve both climate stabilization targets as well as most of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. These policies reach from straightforward CO2 pricing to regulation of water and forest protection, to lifestyle changes such as eating less meat, a new study shows. The scientists highlight the complex interplay between the different targets. A policy focused only on CO2 pricing would cost the least, they show, but would likely trigger substantial land-use changes.

Mix it: Policy combination needed to achieve climate targets along with sustainable development goals - Read More…

Better be safe than sorry: economic optimization risks tipping of important Earth system elements

Better be safe than sorry: economic optimization risks tipping of important Earth system elements

06/15/2018 - Optimizing economic welfare without constraints might put human well-being at risk, a new climate study argues. While being successful in bringing down costs of greenhouse gas reductions for instance, the concept of profit maximization alone does not suffice to avoid the tipping of critical elements in the Earth system which could lead to dramatic changes of our livelihood. The scientists use mathematical experiments to compare economic optimization to the governance concepts of sustainability and the more recent approach of a safe operating space for humanity. All of these turn out to have their benefits and deficits, yet the profit-maximizing approach shows the greatest likelihood of producing outcomes that harm people or the environment.

Better be safe than sorry: economic optimization risks tipping of important Earth system elements - Read More…

Long Night of Sciences in summer heat

Long Night of Sciences in summer heat

06/14/2018 – Despite of the stifling heat, almost 2000 interested people from Berlin and Brandenburg visited the Telegraph Hill in Potsdam for this year’s Long Night of Sciences and explored the various offers of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the hill’s other research institutes, instead of jumping into one of the nearby lakes for some swimming.

Long Night of Sciences in summer heat - Read More…

What saved the West Antarctic Ice Sheet 10,000 years ago will not save it today

What saved the West Antarctic Ice Sheet 10,000 years ago will not save it today

06/14/2018 - The retreat of the West Antarctic ice masses after the last Ice Age was reversed surprisingly about 10,000 years ago, scientists found. This is in stark contrast to previous assumptions. In fact, it was the shrinking itself that stopped the shrinking: relieved from the weight of the ice, the Earth crust lifted and triggered the re-advance of the ice sheet. However, this mechanism is much too slow to prevent dangerous sea-level rise caused by West Antarctica’s ice-loss in the present and near future. Only rapid greenhouse-gas emission reductions can.

What saved the West Antarctic Ice Sheet 10,000 years ago will not save it today - Read More…

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