Is climate change now unstoppable?
Climate change as a social challenge
The results of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are clear: The current climate change is a fact and is primarily based on human influences. The lower atmosphere is heating up, the oceans are getting warmer, glaciers and permafrost are thawing, ice sheets are melting and sea levels are rising. This is shown by extensive observations in climate research. The burning of coal, gas and oil, in particular, upsets the earth's energy balance. Fossil fuels and widespread deforestation are the main reasons why the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher than it has ever been in the past 800,000 years.
The more the warming increases, the more serious the consequences for our climate. Even if emissions grow only moderately, the risks rise disproportionately. The consequences of climate change must remain manageable. Against this background, the international community stipulated in the Framework Convention on Climate Change that all measures should be taken to ensure that warming does not exceed an upper limit of two degrees compared to pre-industrial levels. Should this limit nevertheless be exceeded, the possibilities of adapting humans and nature would rapidly dwindle, especially in poorer regions of the world. This would initiate irreversible climate changes. Climate researchers warn against this.
Even after the results of the Fifth IPCC Report are available, not all questions in climate research have yet been fully clarified. But the main causes of climate change have been recognized. On this basis, climate protection and sustainability strategies must be jointly developed and implemented across national borders and research disciplines.
- We need to build a bridge between short-term weather forecasts and long-term climate change. In order to be able to create medium-term climate forecasts for individual regions, the Federal Ministry of Research supports projects that endeavor to adequately model short-term changes in the climate system.
- Since climate change can no longer be completely stopped even with very ambitious climate protection programs, we need even more knowledge about effective adaptation measures. Corresponding programs of the BMBF develop ways and strategies with which different regions, cities and municipalities can best adapt to climate change.
- Adaptation to climate change is particularly crucial for emerging and developing countries because they are often particularly affected by the consequences such as heat, storms or earthquakes. In addition, in many developing countries their own research capacities are still very limited. In joint cooperation projects, it is therefore important to support the local scientists in developing their own skills and capacities for the observation, evaluation and sustainable development of solutions.
- Unchecked climate change would cause major economic costs. Investments made today to avoid global warming therefore lead to long-term cost savings that also pay off economically. In order to examine the prerequisites for a climate policy that is bound by the two-degree limit, reliable and practicable approaches to assessing the costs, risks and opportunities of climate protection and adaptation are required.
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