The Historic COP21 Climate Change Agreement

A Taxpayer Giveaway To The UN's IPCC

Author: john king
Pages: 30
Language: English
Publication date: 09/01/2016
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The Historic COP21 Climate Change Agreement
Human activities around the world—primarily fossil fuel use, forestry, and agriculture—are producing growing quantities of emissions of greenhouse gases, other gases, and particulates and are also greatly altering the Earth’s vegetative cover. A strong consensus has developed in the expert community that if allowed to continue unabated, the accumulation of those substances in the atmosphere and oceans, coupled with widespread changes in patterns of land use, will have extensive, highly uncertain, but potentially serious and costly impacts on regional climate and ocean conditions throughout the world.

This paper summarizes the current state of scientific understanding of the potential effects of projected changes in climate and related developments. The paper describes the wide range of potential impacts, including changes in:

seasonal weather patterns; the amount and type of precipitation; storms and sea level; regular climate fluctuations; ocean acidity; ecosystems and biodiversity; agriculture, forestry, and fishing; water supply and other infrastructure; and human health. The discussion focuses mainly on projections of impacts in the United States but also refers to impacts elsewhere that could be particularly severe and could indirectly affect the United States.

The paper draws from various primary and secondary sources, particularly the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a major national assessment recently released by the National Science and Technology Council in the Executive Office of the President, and a number of surveys published by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, which integrates executive-branch research on climate and global change.

1.The paper emphasizes the extensive uncertainty about the future growth of greenhouse-gas emissions and resulting climate-related developments, and the implications of that uncertainty for climate policy. Uncertainty arises from several sources, including limitations in current data, imperfect understanding of physical processes, and the inherent unpredictability of economic activity, technological innovation, and many aspects of the interacting components (land, air, water and ice, and life) that make up the Earth’s climate system.

Uncertainty does not imply that nothing is known about future developments, but rather that projections of future changes in climate and of the resulting impacts should be considered in terms of ranges or probability distributions.

2 For example, some recent research suggests that the median increase in average global temperature during the 21st century will be in the vicinity of 9° Fahrenheit (F) if no actions are taken to reduce the growth of greenhouse-gas emissions. However, warming could be much less or much greater than that median level, depending on the growth of emissions and the response of the climate system to those emissions.
The uncertainties surrounding the extent of climate change and its effects on human welfare complicate policy choices because any given emissions scenario could result in much more or much less dramatic changes in climate (and consequent impacts) than are expected.

A full evaluation of any policy requires an assessment not only of its most likely effect on climate impacts but also of how it might shift the probabilities of impacts that are unlikely but would be very severe if they occurred. Because of that uncertainty, policymakers might wish to consider taking more action as a hedge against those severe outcomes than they would just to address the expected or most likely outcome.
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