Emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels have ushered in a new epoch where human activities will largely determine the evolution of Earth's climate. Because carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is long lived, it can effectively lock the Earth and future generations into a range of impacts, some of which could become very severe. Emissions reductions decisions made today matter in determining impacts experienced not just over the next few decades, but in the coming centuries and millennia.
According to Climate Stabilization Targets: Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts Over Decades to Millennia, important policy decisions can be informed by recent advances in climate science that quantify the relationships between increases in carbon dioxide and global warming, related climate changes, and resulting impacts, such as changes in streamflow, wildfires, crop productivity, extreme hot summers, and sea level rise. One way to inform these choices is to consider the projected climate changes and impacts that would occur if greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were stabilized at a particular concentration level. The book quantifies the outcomes of different stabilization targets for greenhouse gas concentrations using analyses and information drawn from the scientific literature. Although it does not recommend or justify any particular stabilization target, it does provide important scientific insights about the relationships among emissions, greenhouse gas concentrations, temperatures, and impacts.
Climate Stabilization Targets emphasizes the importance of 21st century choices regarding long-term climate stabilization. It is a useful resource for scientists, educators and policy makers, among others.