Climate Science

How Low Can We Go?

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Science  22 May 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5930, pp. 989
DOI: 10.1126/science.324_989a
CREDIT: ISTOCK PHOTO

Though it is well established that greenhouse gas emissions are causing the world to warm, policy-makers would benefit from further specific information in order to produce legislation that balances the environmental and economic effects of a given emissions reduction strategy. Washington et al. use a global coupled climate model to evaluate the consequences of a low-emission scenario developed by the United States Climate Change Science Program (CCSP), and thereby illustrate how aggressive mitigation can limit the rise of the global average tropospheric temperature to 1°C above current value by the year 2100. This temperature target is used because it is thought to represent the maximum at which the consequences of climate warming will remain manageable, before becoming dangerous. The authors also discuss ancillary climate consequences of this mitigation route, in an attempt to provide information relevant for the assessment of a wide range of policy options.

Geophys. Res. Lett. 36, L08703 (2009).

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