a, Long-term global mean sea-level change for the past 20,000 years (black line) based on palaeo sea level records (black dots with depth uncertainties shown by blue vertical lines)60 and projections for the next 10,000 years for four e…
Almost no one seems to be able to place sea level rise, as a consequence of climate change, in its proper scientific context. But if you only learn to properly interpret this one Nature graph you’d be a shiny exception to that rule..!
Most of the policy debate surrounding the actions needed to mitigate and adapt to anthropogenic climate change has been framed by observations of the past 150 years as well as climate and sea-level projections for the twenty-first century. The focus on this 250-year window, however, obscures some of the most profound problems associated with climate change. Here, we argue that the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, a period during which the overwhelming majority of human-caused carbon emissions are likely to occur, need to be placed into a long-term context that includes the past 20 millennia, when the last Ice Age ended and human civilization developed, and the next ten millennia, over which time the projected impacts of anthropogenic climate change will grow and persist. This long-term perspective illustrates that policy decisions made in the next few years to decades will have profound impacts on global climate, ecosystems and human societies — not just for this century, but for the next ten millennia and beyond.
Figure 1: Past and future changes in concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide and global mean temperature.
a, Maps showing model-simulated temperature anomalies for the Last Glacial Maximum (21,000 years ago), the mid-Holocene (6,000 years ago), and projection for 2071–2095 based on the upper-end scenario used in the IPCC Working Group I AR5…
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