The difference between perceiving and understanding

Recently I listened to a radio program where the host was interviewing a professor for meteorology on climate change. At one point he committed: “Yes – ok – I understand that obviously all those extreme weather events like droughts and floods and hurricanes which occur now much more often and in places which never had to suffer from that before, all that is obviously due to climate change. And I understand that it is here, and it is real. And I understand that we have to do something about it, and that this may demand something from us. But tell me: when we do all this, when we waive many of our beloved habits, save energy, eat less meat and all that – how long will it then take for the weather to get back to as it was before?”

There was silence at the other end of the line – and then she answered: ”What do you mean ‘get back to as it was before?’, it will never get back to as it was before – that’s the problem!” The weather we see now corresponds to the GHG-content in the atmosphere and as this does not decrease – even if we stop all GHG emissions now completely – this type of weather is the new normal – already today. It will stay like this!

What we can do is to make sure we do not emit more than 400 Gt of CO2 (in total until we get carbon neutral) in order to at least keep the climate change under control and within the 1.5°-target of the Paris agreement.

Yours truly

Matthias Mersmann

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