Heidelberg University

Climate Science and its Implications

Werner Aeschbach, Heidelberg University


The extreme events of 2018 (e.g. heat-waves, droughts, and intense wildfires in Europe, Siberia, Japan, and North America) have raised the public awareness for climate change. The changes long predicted by climate science start being felt in everyday life. In this course we will explore the unmistakable signs of global warming and learn about what is in store for the future. Although the internet is fraught with disinformation about climate change, there are also many sources of high quality readily available and we will make use of them to gain insights into the current state of the art of climate science.

Climate politics has reached a general global agreement in Paris in 2015, which includes mechanisms for continuous adjustment of its targets. Based on the Paris goal of keeping global warming well below 2 °C relative to preindustrial times, climate scientists have issued a report on how to limit warming to 1.5 °C. The report also illustrates the consequences of different levels of future global warming. The implications of climate science for mitigation measures are severe: Reaching even the 2 °C target will require profound and fast changes in the global economy. Different pathways towards stabilization of global climate will be discussed.