Myth and reality

Few would disagree that the world should avoid "dangerous" climate warming, but what does that term mean? What does climate safety mean? Is climate change already dangerous? Are greenhouse gas levels already too high? This report surveys some recent developments in climate science knowledge as a way of discerning the gaps between myth and reality in climate policy-making.

(PDF 17 pages)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Dangerous climate change: Myth, reality and risk mnagement

Published October 2014

The stated purpose of international climate negotiations is to avoid “dangerous” climate change or, more formally, to prevent “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”. But if conditions existing today are already sufficient to push more climate system elements past their tipping points and create “catastrophic” breakdown without any further emissions, what then is our purpose and what do we say?
       This report explores recent scientific literature to explore seven myths of the predominant climate policy-making paradigm:
  • Myth 1: Climate change is not yet dangerous
  • Myth 2: 2°C is an appropriate focus for policy making
  • Myth 3: Big tipping points are unlikely before 2°C
  • Myth 4: We should mitigate for 2°C, but plan to adapt 
to 4°C
  • Myth 5: We have a substantial carbon budget left for 2°C
  • Myth 6: Long-term feedbacks are not materially relevant for carbon budgeting
  • Myth 7: There is time for an orderly, non-disruptive reduction in emissions within the current political-economic paradigm.