View AbstractAbstract: It is easy to lose confidence in the capacity for human social and political systems to respond effectively to the challenges from rising average global temperature and associated climate change. A working group of diverse researchers with backgrounds in mathematical modeling, climate science, psychology, sociology, economics, geography and ecology has addressed the question as to whether there is any rational basis to expect that human behavioral changes can sufficiently impact climate to significantly reduce future mean global temperatures. Climate models can readily make assumptions about reductions in future greenhouse gas emissions and project the implications, but they do this with no rational basis for human responses. We have developed models to build such a rational basis to link social system and human behavior with climate. This includes a model from the theory of planned behavior in social psychology, linked to extreme events obtained from a climate model, and feedback to global emissions. Results from these efforts is that there is indeed some rational basis for hope, with social, political and technical feedback processes driving future climate policies and emissions. Under some circumstances these lead to a meaningful reduction of projected future average temperature.
Note: this talk is based in part on the following papers:
Beckage, B., L. J. Gross, K. Lacasse, E. Carr, S. S. Metcalf, J. M. Winter, P. D. Howe, N. Fefferman, T. Franck, A. Zia, A. Kinzig and F. M. Hoffman. 2018. Linking models of human behavior and climate alters projected climate change. Nature Climate Change 8: 79–84. Moore, F.C., K. Lacasse, K. J. Mach, Y. A. Shin, L. J. Gross and B. Beckage. 2022. Determinants of emissions pathways in the coupled climate–social system. Nature 603: 103–111=====================================================================
Louis J. Gross is a Chancellor's Professor Emeritus and Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Mathematics and Director of The Institute for Environmental Modeling at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He was the founding Director of the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis, a National Science Foundation-funded center to foster research and education at the interface between math and biology. He completed a B.S. degree in mathematics at Drexel University and a Ph.D. in applied mathematics at Cornell University, and has been a faculty member at UTK since 1979. His research emphasizes applications of mathematics and computational methods in many areas of ecology, including disease ecology, landscape ecology, spatial control for natural resource management, photosynthetic dynamics, and the development of quantitative curricula for life science undergraduates. He has served as Program Chair of the Ecological Society of America, President of the Society for Mathematical Biology, Treasurer for the American Institute of Biological Sciences and twice as President of the UTK Faculty Senate. He is the 2006 Distinguished Scientist awardee of the American Institute of Biological Sciences and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the Society for Mathematical Biology. As the volunteer sound engineer for over thirty years at the Laurel Theater, he has engineered and recorded more than a thousand performances of traditional music. His live recordings have been included on over a dozen albums, and his free annual workshops have trained several hundred individuals in the basics of live sound engineering.