SZ Climate Column: “The Last Generation” and Science – The Knowledge

Ever since there have been climate protests, they’ve been accused of overindulgence. The naïve panic of Greta Thunberg’s apocalypse, the unworldly end-time scenarios of Fridays for the Future and now also the distant political intransigence of the “Last Generation” group, which is now – always worse – in its long form “The Last Generation” The Last Generation before tipping point names. Haven’t they ever learned the old adage that things don’t get better by yelling at them louder and louder?

On the other hand, those who argue this way are right. Indeed, despite all the “follow the science” labels, climate critics from a variety of camps confuse the established science with the shakier aspects of climate change impact research or worst-case scenarios, which are naturally associated with large impacts. doubts. Tipping point theories are something like that. Tipping points are the thresholds that change the current situation inexorably, or at least irreversibly for a long time, once it is crossed. Like marbles on a swing, so to speak.

But identifying exactly the intended tipping points in climate debates, whether physical or socioeconomic, often remains open. It is those in one Study from 2008 The nine elements of the “Earth climate system” were originally described, at least some of them are now no longer tenable and many others are not much researched.

Martin Clausen of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg explained this Science Media Center Recently: “According to one General study Only two of the currently discussed transition elements in the climate system are well understood, but they are in fact not climate tipping points: the loss of tropical coral reefs and the loss of Arctic summer sea ice. The loss of tropical coral reefs has social and economic consequences. (..) Contrary to previous assumptions, summer sea ice in the Arctic is not an inverted element, because it disappears at the same pace as the climate warms in this region and returns when the climate cools. (…]It is not made clear when and how Arctic sea ice can disappear all year round, including in winter, i.e. whether Arctic sea ice as a whole is an inverted element. The most enigmatic question to be answered It is the chain of fluctuating elements, which can lead to significant climate changes. However, only simple and conceptual mathematical models are available for this purpose.”

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In short: the escalation of various tipping points is theoretically conceivable – but much of it remains unclear.

And at the same time not to say: everything is not half bad.

On the other hand, this is the danger in a world in which the finance minister of one of the richest industrialized countries tweeted: “Before we discuss social and environmental goals in this society, we have to make sure that our economic institution works.” And in the same weeks that it turned out that Europe experienced the hottest summer in its history last year, that record temperatures are not only measured in Thailand and that global sea temperatures are so high that the generally unenthusiastic climatologist Anders Levermann denied this. Sentence: “We are leaving the climatic range we know and increasingly entering unknown territory.”

In this respect, it is understandable that every protest movement cries out as extreme as possible. Because you can learn, so to speak, as wisdom from the future: Whoever plays a climate worth living in and “economic foundation” against each other will lose both in the end.

(This text is from The Weekly the news Friday weather for you here for free can order.)

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