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Literature Review: Climate Problems for the 2020s
Climate change was and is a greater threat to our security, and to the futures of citizens around the globe, than any other. For the most vulnerable populations, including children, the elderly, and low-income and indigenous communities, the risk is even more severe. Across the United States, we have seen a massive groundswell of institutions, cities and states, the private sector, foundations and nonprofits, and citizen advocates, stepping up to this challenge .
Climate change continued its relentless march in 2020, which is on track to be one of the three warmest years on record. 2011-2020 will be the warmest decade on record, with the warmest six years all being since 2015 . Ocean heat is at record levels and more than 80% of the global ocean experienced a marine heatwave at some time in 2020. Despite the COVID-19 lockdown, atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases continued to rise, committing the planet to further warming for many generations to come because of the long lifetime of CO2 in the atmosphere.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) introduced the idea of tipping points two decades ago. The evidence from tipping points alone suggests that we are in a state of planetary emergency: both the risk and urgency of the situation are acute. We argue that the intervention time left to prevent tipping could already have shrunk towards zero, whereas the reaction time to achieve net zero emissions is 30 years at best. Hence we might already have lost control of whether tipping happens .
While we continue to work through the challenges that COVID-19 has created within our food supply chains, we can’t lose sight of what the future demands of us. If climate change goes unaddressed, food prices could rise, availability could drop and the consequence, especially for those that are most vulnerable, could be limited access to food. But progress is being made. Farmers and scientists are working together to help mitigate the effects of climate change, help make farms more resilient, and keep our food supply affordable and reliable .
With global warming currently at around 1 °C, we are witnessing many damaging extreme weather events. Worldwide, July 2019 was the hottest month ever on record, and 9 out of the 10 hottest July have occurred since 2005, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The current projected pathways set out by national governments will take us to a world that will be around 3°Celsius warmer by 2100 .
Starting from such general references, this booklet identifies ten relevant areas from very recent contributions put forward at academic level in the form journal articles, conference proceedings and students theses. Ten freely accessible internet references have been selected for each area and direct links are provided at the end of each chapter for own consultation. Our selected references do not intend to mirror ranking indexes nor establish novel classifications. On the contrary, they are meant to represent peer-reviewed, diverse and scientifically-sound case studies for vertical dissemination aimed at non-specialist readers. They will also be able to scoop even more references through the bibliography that is reported at the end of each selected reference.
Without further ado, these are the “Ten Problems for Climate in the 2020s” that we are going to introduce in this booklet:
- energy policies,
- machine learning,
- non-state actors,
- social sciences,
- green infrastructures,
- regional environments,
Each problem has its own dedicated chapter made of an introductory section, a short presentation of the ten selected references and a conclusions section.
The final chapter of this booklet will report the conclusions from each chapter again in order to provide a complete executive summary.
GENERAL REFERENCES CITED
 V. Ramanathan et al., “Bending the Curve: Climate Change Solutions”, 2019, University of California, ISBN 978-0-578-50847-4 , online at https://escholarship.org/content/qt6kr8p5rq/qt6kr8p5rq.pdf
 World Meteorological Organization, “2020 on track to be one of three warmest years on record”, 2 Dec 2020, WMO Press Release, United Nations, online at https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/2020-track-be-one-of-three-warmest-years-record , accessed on 7 Dec 2020
 T.M. Lenton et al., “Climate tipping points – too risky to bet against”, 2019, Nature 575, 592-595 (2019) , doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-03595-0 , online at https://www.nature.com/magazine-assets/d41586-019-03595-0/d41586-019-03595-0.pdf
 Bayer, “Extremely Normal: A Very 2020 Look at Food, Climate Change and Extreme Weather”, 24 Nov 2020, Bayer Global, online at https://www.bayer.com/en/news-stories/modern-approach-combatting-climate-change , accessed on 7 Dec 2020
 A. Gurria, “Accelerating Climate Action – Highlights”, 2019, OECD, online at https://www.oecd.org/environment/cc/Highlights-Accelerating-Climate-Action-Refocusing-Policies-through-a-Well-being-Lens.pdf carbon footprint, greenhouse effect, pollution levels, renewable energy
booklet updated on 13 Dec 2020, now on sale as version 1.1