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What Smart People Get Wrong About Climate Change Extremes: Opinion

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Sponsored by Insurance Journal If anyone should be attuned to the real-world impacts of global warming, it’s the policy makers and business heads that have to deal with the fallout. But even the most well-intentioned can fail to grasp just how bad things could get if climate goals aren’t met.

At least that’s the impression I get. That’s why I reached out to Andy Pitman and Sonia Seneviratne , two of the world’s top experts on the most catastrophic effects of climate change. Their fields of study focus on extremes and compound events. Both worry that institutions are too focused on outcomes we can predict with high confidence. There isn’t enough appreciation of the risks associated with new weather patterns we don’t yet understand.

Warming of about 1.2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels has already had devastating consequences . “Once we get around 2°C we are getting to a climate regime which hasn’t been seen for as long as the human species has been at work,” said Seneviratne, a professor at ETH Zurich who oversaw the chapter on extremes in the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report . The document, published every six to seven years, is the pinnacle […]

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