Reconciling climate mitigation with global change

"The Diabolical Problem"

1 October 2009

What was the event?

A talk by John Finnigan, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Canberra, Australia.

Professor Ross Garnaut, the author of a major report to the Australian Government, called climate mitigation a ‘diabolical problem’ but climate change is but one symptom of global change: the response of the world system to the impact of a growing world population and its desire for resources. Efforts to mitigate climate change must recognize also the need both to limit global population in the future and to provide for the population growth that is inevitable.

In this talk we presented a ‘complex systems’ analysis of the interplay between four drivers of global change: population, aspiration, connectivity and biogeochemical change, and the ways they might affect the evolution of the world system over the next few decades. On this time scale we can reasonably claim some forecasting ability. The analysis suggests that we will encounter ‘tipping points’ in the ‘human-earth system’ much earlier than in the biophysical climate system.

It also points to a dilemma which results from the strongly connected nature of the world in which we now live: we depend on the current level of world connectivity to supply the world’s population with the resources it needs yet this same connectivity makes large fluctuations in resource availability inevitable. Not only does this have serious negative impacts, particularly on the poorest societies, but also serious implications for global stability.

Who was the event suitable for?

Scientists, practioners, students, policy makers and representatives from industry, academic and forestry organisations.

Where did the event take place?

Forest Research
Northern Research Station
Midlothian EH25 9SY


For more details please contact:

David Edwards
Forest Research
Northern Research Station
Midlothian EH25 9SY

Tel: +44 (0)131 445 2176
Tel direct: +44 (0)131 445 8495
Fax: +44 (0)131 445 5124