Climate change: A new formula on how to determine climate emergency

A formula that determines the severity of climate change has been put forward by Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber.

The formula tries to put into perspective the time needed to address the emergency. Prof Hans compared the formula to the Titanic about to sink where risks have to be determined to ascertain the urgency of the situation.

Most countries are coming to terms with the danger that climate change poses to the future generation. There is a consensus within the scientific community that climate change needs to be addressed before things get out of hand and it becomes an emergency. The challenge within the scientific community is when to determine when this emergency occurs.

Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber has put this into perspective by coming up with a formula that can determine the emergency of climate change. The titanic climate moment follows the same logic as a titanic fast approaching an iceberg, which has the capability of sinking it.

The emergency formula for climate change

Prof Hans said that it only becomes an emergency if the titanic’s captain determines that there might not be enough time to steer the ship to a safe course. He argued that the same concept could be applied to climate change, where if the time required to correct severe consequences of climate change is less, then we would have an emergency. Otherwise, we would have a manageable situation where we can work to correct the problem.

Prof Hans came up with a formula for determining the climate emergency is

Emergency = R × U = p × D × τ / T

Where R is emergency, U is the urgency, (p) is the probability of something happening, (D) is the damage caused by such an event, (τ) is the time taken to react to such an event and (T) is the time left to avoid an adverse outcome. This formula will be able to calculate the climate change emergency.

Prof Hans indicated that the formula is useful in determining how much time we have left to address the climate change emergency. He said, “the intervention time left for limiting global warming to less than 2C is about 30 [years] at best. The reaction time – time needed for full global decarbonization – is at least 20 [years].”

The formula will act as a guide on how to approach the climate change emergency. Although an emergency can mean different things to different groups, this formula quantifies what any type of climate emergency and therefore puts into perspective how difficult or manageable a situation is.

What does “titanic” mean?

The root word titan is derived from Greek mythology. The Titans were a race of powerful deities. The adjective titanic can now refer to anything extremely large or strong. The Titanic was the name of the famous cruise ship that sank in 1912 after hitting an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean.


Featured image by Pixabay