New climate model sounds promising. Is it?
February 11, 2019 12:29 PM   Subscribe

Scientists, researchers, professionals in the field: I just heard about the One Earth Climate Model, which was funded by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. Does the framework and claims for this model appear to be bogus, potentially reasonable, or is it simply too early to tell? (Please do not respond if you consider my question stupid or offensive. Thank you!)

As far as I can tell, this is a new, improved climate model suggesting that we may be able to limit global warming to 1.5C additional degrees by employing existing technologies/methods. The details are as yet unpublished. There has been some but not tons of news about this, which is why I am asking for insight from the savvy scientists of MetaFilter.

Here is a link to a press release.

Here is another press release.

Fast Company ran a short item about it.

From the foundation: A state-of-the-art climate model, funded by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and released by the prestigious scientific publisher Springer Nature, offers a roadmap for meeting -- and surpassing -- the targets set by the Paris Climate Agreement, proving that we can solve the global climate crisis with currently available technologies. The book, entitled Achieving the Paris Climate Agreement, was the culmination of a two-year scientific collaboration with 17 leading scientists at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), two institutes at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), and the University of Melbourne’s Climate & Energy College.

While climate scientists have created hundreds of models to help policymakers understand the impacts of climate change and how to mitigate them, nearly all of these models have relied upon negative emissions technologies, which are expensive and not proven to work at scale. This model is the first to achieve the required negative emissions through natural climate solutions, including the restoration of degraded forests and other lands, along with a transition to 100% renewable energy by mid-century.

Malte Meinshausen, Founding Director of the Climate and Energy College at the University of Melbourne and Potsdam Institute Fellow, said: "Citing a growing body of research, we show that using land restoration efforts to meet negative emissions requirements, along with a transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050, gives the world a good chance of staying below the 1.5°C target."
posted by Bella Donna to Science & Nature (4 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The details are as yet unpublished.

If this is accurate then as a scientist I think the answer is, at best, “too soon to tell”.
posted by SaltySalticid at 12:38 PM on February 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Elaborating a bit: the devil is absolutely in the details. I am not a climate change researcher but I have published in adjacent fields, primarily modeling of plant ecosystems.

And this would be potentially good and hopeful news if all the claims are well supported, stuff like this:

As this climate model shows, in order to keep the global temperature rise to no more than 1.5°C, we have to keep our natural carbon sinks intact, scale up restoration efforts and shift to regenerative agriculture."

—This is pretty much well agreed upon in my scientific circles. We’ve all been telling each other that kind of stuff for decades now, and for the most part it seems the primary problems with addressing climate change are political (and the political influence of the industrial climate destroyers).

The science of how to mitigate anthropogenic climate change though land use management, conservation and restoration of natural ecosystems is pretty well understood in broad strokes, and this work claims to be crunching hard numbers and coming up with a certain trajectories that would seem to (temporarily) halt things at a1.5 C change compared to a baseline, without using artificial carbon sequestration technology.

That in itself is interesting and potentially valuable, but it does not describe something especially surprising or novel. That said, if this is done well and rigorously and has a clear set of policy recommendations, the the work is still something that is very hard to do and has not been specifically done before.

What would be surprising and novel would be a concerted and useful political response from our most powerful governments that takes clear action based off of science-based policy reccomendations to mitigate disasterous climate change.
posted by SaltySalticid at 1:04 PM on February 11, 2019 [6 favorites]

Actually, odinsdream, the ipcc plan does lean fairly heavily into CCS.

That all being said, we have had the technology to address climate change meaningfully for several years, and it has been widely known. We don't need a revolutionary new technology.

However we do need to change markets and incentives and investment. The problems have always been political, and the various polluting countries also had their say in the Paris treaty etc. References to carbon capture and storage have basically been put in at their insistence, and as a sop to them.

It's pie in the sky stuff, and will never happen, but everyone kinda knows that and just doesnt say.

More modelling is always good, at this point I would regard this more as advocacy than "science" per se, though its great people are mapping in more detail the required transitions.
posted by smoke at 9:46 PM on February 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

The words I am not seeing are "peer review".
posted by Toddles at 10:33 PM on February 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

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