• UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Cal Poly Edges Gauchos 73-72 With Late Basket https://t.co/B3JF2mtSt4
    1 hour 38 min ago
  • AS_UCSB twitter avatar
    CAMPUS JOB ALERT: @SBLivingHistory is seeking curious and creative types to join our team. https://t.co/FeQ8ybNJcQ https://t.co/o61fO77L50
    2 hours 21 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    UCSB MVB led 11-9 in the 5th Wednesday night, the team's first home match in 46 days and first game-action in two w… https://t.co/4zjvsMOFle
    2 hours 37 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Luke Andrews (7 IP, 1 R, 4 H) absolutely DEALT for @UCSB_Baseball today, leading the Gauchos to a 7-2 Opening Day w… https://t.co/JUpY8CLyTn
    5 hours 53 min ago
  • ucsantabarbara twitter avatar
    Sherie Labedis’s journey to reunite with a friend she lost touch with after the Civil Rights Movement brings her to… https://t.co/le1uWZrDo7
    8 hours 1 min ago
  • ArtsandLectures twitter avatar
    RT @TylerHayden1: Talked with NASA commander and crack photographer @AstroTerry about his book and upcoming talk in S.B. @ArtsandLectures h…
    8 hours 3 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    First-Place UCSB Travels to UC Irvine Thursday for Another 1-2 Showdown https://t.co/HH08BS8tGe
    9 hours 4 min ago
  • brenucsb twitter avatar
    New Marine Protected Area Alert! Seychelles is home to giant tortoises, tuna, sharks, & scores of other marine spec… https://t.co/GhqaS4YmRE
    9 hours 21 min ago
  • UCSBLibrary twitter avatar
    RT @CSEP_UCSB: The sun is shining, the breeze is cool, time to snuggle up to your monitor and visit #ArtofScience #Voting! Cast your vote f…
    10 hours 42 min ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    UCSB Hosts Dayton, San Diego for Gaucho Classic I https://t.co/NwYtLZIfC7
    10 hours 53 min ago
  • ArtsandLectures twitter avatar
    RT @hfaucsb: It's foolish to think that politics is an expression of moral purity" - Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Tony Kushner at UCSB…
    10 hours 56 min ago
  • ArtsandLectures twitter avatar
    10 hours 57 min ago
  • ArtsandLectures twitter avatar
    @AstroTerry @NatGeoLive @NatGeoBooks @NatGeoPR woot woot! see you there!
    10 hours 57 min ago
  • ArtsandLectures twitter avatar
    RT @AstroTerry: If you are in Santa Barbara, CA on February 26, come see me at UCSB Campbell Hall and experience the beauty of our planet f…
    10 hours 57 min ago
  • brenucsb twitter avatar
    "Most problems require multiple skillsets and disciplinary expertise to solve, so if I didn’t collaborate I wouldn’… https://t.co/Owza9Ezl0N
    10 hours 57 min ago

Temperatures Rising

Achieving the global temperature goals laid out in the Paris Climate Agreement is unlikely, according to research by economist Dick Startz
Thursday, August 3, 2017 - 11:00
Santa Barbara, CA

Dick Startz.JPG

Meeting the global temperature goals laid out in the Paris Climate Agreement is unlikely, according to new research by UCSB economics professor Dick Startz

Dick Startz

Photo Credit: 

Courtesy photo

The Paris Climate Agreement of 2016, which saw 195 nations come together in the shared goal of ameliorating climate change, set forth an ambitious goal of limiting global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius. Since then, many have wondered, is that even scientifically possible? Unfortunately, the odds aren’t looking good.

New research by Dick Startz, a professor in UC Santa Barbara’s Department of Economics, along with colleagues from the University of Washington and Upstart, suggests it is unfeasible for the world to meet the global temperature goals adopted in the agreement, and nearly unfathomable that the collective nations will exceed expectations.

Startz collaborated on a paper, published in “Nature: Climate Change,” that used a combination of statistical, scientific and economic data to paint a clear picture of the climate scenarios most likely by the year 2100. That picture is bleak.

The paper posits a 95 percent chance that global temperatures will increase by more than 2 degrees Celsius, and a less than 1 percent chance they will not exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The team looked at statistical data from 1960 to 2010 and found that temperatures over the next 80 years will likely increase from two to 4.9 degrees Celsius, with a projected median of 3.2 degrees Celsius. It is most likely (a 90 percent chance) that global temperatures will fall somewhere in the middle of the range.

Though their conclusions are in agreement with those of many other climate experts, their methods varied from the norm. Startz and his co-authors employed an entirely data-driven model in their work that eschewed opinion in favor of evidence.

“Instead of focusing on expert opinion, we wanted to just rely entirely on what the data says,” Startz explained. “This is a high-tech statistical model that looks at what has happened to per-capita output in each country, to carbon intensity in each country, and to population in each country. What we find is that there is a wide range of what could happen, but unfortunately the bottom end of the range is still fairly bad, and the top end of the range is catastrophic.”

The researchers were surprised to find the major contributing factor in climate change over time was not population growth, but carbon intensity, which is a measure of carbon dioxide per unit of gross domestic product.

“For a lot of history, carbon intensity rises for a while, reaches a peak, and then starts to fall,” Startz explained. “Our predictions assume that carbon intensity is going to continue to trend downward, as it has been. That still leaves us in a mess. The only thing that is going to get us out of it is finding a way to make carbon intensity fall much more quickly than it has been.”

The model even takes into account the rate at which carbon emissions have been decreasing in recent years, but still comes up short. “If our carbon emissions keep getting better as fast as they have, we’re still in that much trouble,” Startz said. “That’s the best-case scenario, unless there is major change. Continued improvements in our carbon intensity aren’t going to be enough.”

So can anything prevent the seemingly inevitable warming of the Earth? Startz points to two possible but equally challenging solutions: major technological advances (such as innovations in battery power or safer nuclear power), or simply putting a high price tag on pollution. “We can hope for some magic breakthrough or we can do the unpleasant task of charging more when we’re polluting,” he commented, “but even that might not be enough.”

Though the worldwide economy would have to slow down “tremendously” for the findings in the paper to be erroneous, Startz said, he still hopes that somehow, for the sake of the planet, his predictions will prove incorrect. “Believe me,” he said, “there’s nothing we would like better than to be wrong.”

Contact Info: 

Nora Drake
(805) 893-2206
nora.drake@ucsb.edu

Topics: