A new study published in the journal Nature models future outcomes for the Earth's climate.
Researchers from the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) have created computer simulations of a hundred thousand different futures with various outcomes of climate change. The models incorporate social and political factors that help and hinder progress in combating climate change, not just technical, environmental, and economic factors.
"We're trying to understand what it is about these fundamental socio-political-technical systems that determine emissions," said Frances Moore of UC Davis.
The models consider historical data about the public's view of climate change and cognitive biases like the shifting-baseline effect. A previous study by Moore shows that people tend to compare weather anomalies experienced recently to memories in the last eight years instead of more historical weather.
"It has been hypothesized that this emerging signal of climate change in people's everyday experience of weather might lead to widespread acknowledgement of the existence of global warming and possibly, by extension, support for mitigation policy," the researchers wrote in their paper.
The simulations model the future until 2100, and over 90 percent of the simulated outcomes show emissions reductions leading to a 0.5°C reduction of the predicted 3.9°C increase if we do nothing about our current trajectory. The models corroborate other findings, which suggest keeping the global temperature increase below 1.5°C is highly unlikely, but keeping it under 2.0°C is still possible.
"Understanding how societies respond to environmental change, and how policy arises from social and political systems, is a key question in sustainability science. I see this as pushing that research, and also being useful for climate adaptation and impact planning," said Moore.
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