Computer Models Of Civilization Could Slow Global Warming

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Huge computer simulations of the global economy, so-called integrated assessment models, could be a route to a climate change solution.

There are six major versions of these, four of which were developed in Europe, one in Japan and one at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in the U.S.

A few years ago, world leaders agreed in Paris to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

Achieving this goal means reducing net greenhouse gas emissions to zero over the next 40 years.

This is why scientists are looking at these computers for a solution. Each of these models starts with data on current sources of greenhouse gas emissions, including assumptions about international trade, market prices, and the cost of new technologies.

Scientists then force these virtual models to change tack by imposing limits on greenhouse gas emissions, which then try to meet this requirement as cheaply as possible, as long as it is technologically feasible and does not hit limits such as land availability or other natural resources.

The encouraging news is that the models have found a way to achieve this goal, at least in scenarios where global governments have been inclined to work together to achieve their Paris goals.

Some models show people responding to higher energy prices or government regulations by changing their lifestyles by moving to more energy-efficient homes and abandoning their cars in favor of a new and better form of public transport. Aside from traditional bus routes, autonomous vehicles like Uber respond by taking people where they need to go.

Other scenarios show that people still use a lot of energy, which in turn requires a huge increase in clean-energy production, which would mean 10 to 20 times more land covered by solar and wind farms, and more power plants that burn wood or other biofuels, along with equipment to capture and store the carbon dioxide released.

The results of computer modelling are like blurred maps identifying routes that could help the Earth mitigate the disaster.

The talk of these computers comes after the publication of a climate report.

For more information, read the original story in NPR.

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