From: International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
Published March 2, 2017 02:54 PM

Climate research needs greater focus on human populations

Climate change research needs a greater focus on changing population structures when assessing future human vulnerability, argue IIASA researchers in a new perspective article in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Climate research has provided a range of scenarios of showing how climate change will affect global temperatures, water resources, agriculture, and many other areas. Yet it remains unclear how all these potential changes could affect future human wellbeing. In particular, the population of the future – in its composition, distribution, and characteristics – will not be the same as the population observed today. That means that assessing likely impacts by relating the climate change projected for the future to today’s societal capabilities can be misleading. In order to understand the impacts of climate change on human beings, says IIASA World Population Program Director Wolfgang Lutz, climate change research needs to explicitly consider forecasting human populations’ capacities to adapt to a changing climate.

Lutz and IIASA researcher Raya Muttarak note that the demographic tools to do this are available and well-established. Global IIASA population and human capital scenarios up to the year 2100 already include not just numbers of people, but also their distribution by age, sex, and education level. These scenarios form the human core of the SSPs (Shared Socioeconomic Pathways) that are   widely used in research related to climate change.

Read more at International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

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