Systems Theory: Complexities of climate risk

In this podcast, earth systems scientist Tim Lenton, professor of Climate Change and Earth System Science at the University of Exeter discusses climatic and social tipping points, the interconnected nature of climate risk and the critical emissions pathways that lie ahead. The systemic and existential nature of the risks arising from climate change requires us to engage with the vast and complex problem strategically at a high level.

One approach is the application of systems theory to our planet in a discipline known as earth system science. This approach treats the whole globe as a single complex system, observing the interactions of sub-systems such as our atmosphere and biosphere, as well as the feedback loops that act to stabilise or destabilise the fundamental conditions for life. This approach has already unlocked a number of key insights for understanding the causes and impacts of climate change and is a vitally important perspective for anyone wanting to better understand complex and interconnected nature of the risks from climate change.

Lenton, a leading academic in the field of earth system science and co-author of the seminal and award-winning paper on climatic tipping points and the non-linearity of climate change. In addition to discussing systems theory and a number of critical climatic tipping points, he also provides insights into the various emissions pathways that lie ahead of us and shines a light on some of the often underappreciated social impacts of climate change such as near term mass migration.

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