Apr 20th 2015

Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided (Coursera)

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It is now becoming clear that without necessary climate action, the world may become 4°C warmer by the end of this century. As this threatens to roll back decades of development progress, this is a ‘make or break’ point. This course presents the most recent scientific evidence as well as some of the opportunities for urgent action.

Under current pledges and commitments, the world is likely to reach a 4°C degree warming by the end of the century and 2°C warming as early as 2040. This MOOC brings leading and renowned scientists to provide a synthesis of the most recent scientific evidence and provides an analysis of likely impacts and risks with a focus on developing countries. It chronicles already observed changes in the climate system and its impacts, through the increase in carbon dioxide emissions, corresponding temperature increases and melting of glaciers and sea ice, and changes in precipitation patterns. It also offers projections for the 21st century for droughts, heat waves, sea level rise, with implications on food and water security as well as possible impacts on agriculture, water availability, ecosystems and human health.

The MOOC presents this analysis for the likely impacts of a 4-degree warming trajectory and stresses the need for decision makers and communities to take a firm look at their adaptation choices, while signaling the urgency for mitigation action. Participants will also be introduced to the risks of triggering non-linearity, and tipping elements like the disintegration of the West Antarctic ice sheet and large-scale Amazon dieback. This MOOC ends with a discussion on the main policy choices needed to prevent warming to be above 2°C.