Most Significant Climate Change paper in last few years

With only a few days of 2019 left I’ve been asking myself a question – what has been the most significant scientific paper published during the last couple of years related to climate change?

I have a proposed answer. I do of course recognise that the term “Significant” is vague and wholly subjective, and so others may have different answers.

So what is my proposed answer?

I’ve struggled with this, there are several good candidates, but in the end I finally opted for this.

It is the IPCC 1.5 C Special report #SR15. – Published Oct 2018

What is in this IPCC Special Report?

Ninety-one authors and review editors from 40 countries prepared this IPCC report and it cites the best available scientific evidence at the time of publication in October.

The scope is vast and the content deep. In essence the report is telling you this …

  • Humans are wholly and completely responsible for about 1C of warming (the range is roughly 08. to 1.2), and between 2030 and 2052 that number will reach 1.5C of warming.
  • This change will persist for thousands of years. As time progresses, this will profoundly alter the climate system – for example sea level rise will keep rising
  • If we can reach and then sustain net zero CO2 emissions we can halt the ongoing rise, but in the longer term, we need negative CO2 emissions to prevent further warming due to feedback systems

Why pick this one report?

It justifies why limiting warming to 1.5 instead of 2.0 matters with some simple illustrations …

Understanding this is perhaps well understood within the climate community. Why I picked this paper is that it gets this message across to a wider community.

What comes next is that as we get closer to the end of the year I’ll narrow down my scope to just 2019 and so a list of what I think have been the most significant papers related to climate that were published in 2019 will take shape.

Meanwhile, you can read more about that report here from my posting related to it back in Oct 2018.

To get a better handle on it you can also read the exec summary, found here. (It runs to just 33 pages)

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