At Copenhagen in December 2009, the international community agreed to limit global warming to below two degrees Celsius to avoid the worst impacts of human-induced climate change. However climate scientists agree that current national emissions targets collectively will still not achieve this goal. Instead, the ‘ambition gap’ between climate science and climate policy is likely to lead to average global warming of around four degrees Celsius by or before 2100. If a ‘Four Degree World’ is the de facto goal of policy, we urgently need to understand what this world might look like.
Four Degrees of Global Warming: Australia in a Hot World outlines the expected consequences of this world for Australia and its region. Its contributors include many of Australia’s most eminent and internationally recognized climate scientists, climate policy makers and policy analysts. They provide an accessible, detailed, dramatic, and disturbing examination of the likely impacts of a Four Degree World on Australia’s social, economic and ecological systems.
The book offers policy makers, politicians, students, and anyone interested climate change, access to the most recent research on potential Australian impacts of global warming, and possible responses.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction Peter Christoff Part 1: Climate Science and Four Degrees 2. Australia's Climate at Four Degrees Penny Whetton, David Karoly, Ian Watterson, Leanne Webb, Frank Drost, Dewi Kirono and Kathleen McInnes 3. Extreme Events Karl Braganza, Kevin Hennessy, Lisa Alexander and Blair Trewin Part 2: Ecological Impacts 4. Terrestrial Species and Ecosystems Lesley Hughes 5. Marine Species and Ecosystems Ove Hoegh Guldberg 6. Agricultural Systems Mark Howden and Serena Henry 7. Compounding Problems Will Steffen and David Griggs Part 3: Social and Economic Impacts 8. Compounding Social and Economic Impacts Ross Garnaut 9. Human Health Tony McMichael 10. Cities Jan McDonald 11. Regional Security Peter Christoff and Robyn Eckersley Part 4: Adaptation 12. Regional Adaptation Challenges Andrew Hewett 13. Adaptation - Can We? Jon Barnett and Jean Palutikof 14. Conclusion Peter Christoff
Peter Christoff is a political scientist and Associate Professor who teaches Climate Change Politics and Policy and Environmental Policy at the University of Melbourne. From 2005 to 2013 he was also the Vice President of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Australia’s largest national environmental NGO.
This is an important book that addresses the defining question of the 21st century: Can we really afford to let the world slip down the warming slope – towards the 4 degrees mark or even beyond? The authors provide compelling evidence from the Australian perspective that the answer reads "no". Peter Christoff should be praised for initiating and editing this colossal intellectual effort.
–Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Postdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany
'Four Degrees' reveals what might become of Australians and their country if global average temperatures are allowed to increase by 4 degrees above that of 200 years ago. It paints a 'bleak vision of a continent under assault.' And that will be out future if we do nothing - just keep going along as we are today. Thankfully the book is also full of clear and realistic solutions, which makes it a must-read for all caring Australians.
–Tim Flannery, Chief Commissioner, Climate Commission, Australia
This important book, though ostensibly about climate change, raises profound and personal questions about the type of world we wish to bequeath our children. Setting out stark and scientifically informed choices, the authors provide a cogent framing of the challenging issues facing Australian policy makers, businesses and civil society.
–Kevin Anderson, University of Manchester, UK
Despite a generation of talks, the international community has failed to stem the global increase in greenhouse gas pollution that is causing climate change. Consequently, the earth is set to get hotter, and Australia is in the eye of the storm. In this important new book, Peter Christoff brings together the insights of distinguished scholars, scientists and analysts. They explore the ecological, social and economic impacts for Australia of a much warmer world, in the process providing a valuable guide to the future.
–Paul G. Harris, Hong Kong Institute of Education
This edited volume, with contributions by a large group of Australian physical and social scientists, provides a comprehensive assessment of the impacts of future anthropogenic climate change on the Australian continent. The highly referenced scholarly book is divided into four sections.
– D. Goldblum, Choice Magazine, Northern Illinois University, USA
This text is at once excellent, important and terrifying. The collection of leading scholars on such varied topics puts the text in the best tradition of inter-disciplinary research. The chapters together provide a detailed account of the uncomfortable realities we face in a "four-degree world": a temperature change increasingly feasible given continued emissions growth and the pace of international cooperation.
– Matt McDonald, University of Queensland, Australian Journal of Politics and History
The book’s great strength for use in geographical education is that it brings together papers from elite Australian climate change researchers, each presenting a summary review of issues within their respective fields. The well-structured chapters are generally highly readable and relevant to Australian students.
– Geographical Education, Dr Douglas K Bardsley, The University of Adelaide, South Australia