A Rational Basis for Hope: Human Behavior Modeling and Climate Change

Mar 11, 2019, 12:00 pm12:00 pm
300 Wallace Hall
Open to the public, RSVP required.
Event Description

It is easy to lose confidence in the capacity for human social and political systems to respond effectively to the challenges from rising average global temperature and associated climate change. A working group of diverse researchers with backgrounds in mathematical modeling, climate science, psychology, sociology, geography and ecology has addressed the question as to whether there is any rational basis to expect that human behavioral changes can sufficiently impact climate to significantly reduce future mean global temperatures. Climate models can easily make assumptions about reductions in future greenhouse gas emissions and project the implications, but they do this with no rational basis for human responses. We have built this rational basis by developing a model based on a set of standard assumptions from the psychology literature in the theory of planned behavior, linking these to extreme events obtained from a climate model, and then allowing feedback to global emissions in a climate model on a yearly basis as affected by human behavior. The key result from this is that there is indeed some rational basis for hope, whereby a meaningful reduction of future average temperature occurs under circumstances in which mitigation arises from infrastructure changes which allow for cumulative impacts.

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