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C-Learn and C-ROADS Philip Rice April 9, 2013 ENVS 295 visiting lecture How can a system dynamics simulation help evolve our thinking before our thinking.

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Presentation on theme: "C-Learn and C-ROADS Philip Rice April 9, 2013 ENVS 295 visiting lecture How can a system dynamics simulation help evolve our thinking before our thinking."— Presentation transcript:

1 C-Learn and C-ROADS Philip Rice April 9, 2013 ENVS 295 visiting lecture How can a system dynamics simulation help evolve our thinking before our thinking stops our evolving?

2 Explore using C-Learn Using C-Learn (, demonstrate using two sets of experiments 1) the effect of delay of emissions reductions on global average temperature in 2100 and 2) the effect of the magnitude of the CO2 emissions reductions if they were all started in 2020. For these experiments, apply the same settings to each bloc of countries, effectively using C-Learn in a "global" mode for demonstration purposes. For both sets of experiments, include the business as usual run as a reference and 4 experimental runs. Produce comparative graphs showing CO2 emissions, CO2 in the atmosphere, temperature and sea level rise. For experiment #2, for each experimental run in the set, include the graph showing Emissions and Removals. What can you conclude from your experiments?

3 Why can’t we wait… and see?

4 For a particular effort, what is the effect of waiting to start the effort? Apply a constant emissions reduction effort of 2.5% (1990 level) per year Start in 2015 and at 5 year intervals through 2035 Simulate the resulting temperature increase in the year 2100

5 Business as usual 2 °F 4 6 8 10 BAU 8.7 GOAL 3.6

6 Emissions reductions 2.5%/year 2 °F 4 6 8 10 2.9 BAU 8.7 2015

7 Emissions reductions 2.5%/year 2 °F 4 6 8 10 3.4 2020 2.9 BAU 8.7

8 2 °F 4 6 8 10 Emissions reductions 2.5%/year 4.1 2025 3.4 BAU 8.7

9 Emissions reductions 2.5%/year 2 °F 4 6 8 10 4.8 2030 4.1 BAU 8.7

10 Emissions reductions 2.5%/year 2 °F 4 6 8 10 5.5 2035 4.8 BAU 8.7 2.9° 3.4° 4.1° 5.5° 4.8° GOAL 3.6 CO 2 Emissions (Gtons CO 2 /year)

11 Emissions reductions 2.5%/year Temperature increase (°F) in 2100 Year that 2.5% reductions begin

12 Why acting sooner is better.

13 How much does the starting time matter to effort required? Assume that we make yearly emissions reductions at whatever percent per year is needed to hit 3.6°F in 2100 Starting in 2015 and through 2035 at 5 year intervals What happens as we delay the starting year of emissions reductions?

14 Business as usual 8.7°F Temperature rise Business as usual 2 °F 4 6 8 10 BAU 8.7 0.0% % emissions reduction/year GOAL 3.6

15 1.7% 2015 % emissions reduction/year

16 2.2% 2020 % emissions reduction/year

17 3.2% 2025 % emissions reduction/year

18 4.8% 2030 % emissions reduction/year

19 8.3% 2035 % emissions reduction/year

20 Effort required to keep temperature increase to 3.6°F in 2100 1.7% 2.2% 3.2% 4.8% 8.3% Year that necessary reductions begin Emissions reduction (%/year)

21 Sooner is better because... Less cost – waiting incurs greater damage which is costly Safer – avoids the unknown tipping thresholds by a greater margin Cleaner sooner End up at a lower level of atmospheric CO 2

22 Theory of change 1 — “Houston, we have a problem...” Our global climate system, with its delayed reactions to our changes, has us confused and we need to understand that. We need a way to cope with understanding and managing detail complexity and dynamic complexity.

23 Theory of change 2— We have conceptual the tools we need System dynamics modeling is a tool that can render the level of complexity we confront with climate change into our comprehension so we may begin to take action. Building a System Dynamics simulation model and then bringing it or the insights it can deliver into key decision-making venues – the public – government – business

24 Theory of change 3— Part of solution is thinking... Recognize that the understanding and comprehension of this problem has implications for the dominant paradigm. Paradigm shifts are an effort to undergo but we have a history of transcending paradigms that are obsolete or insufficient- think habit or mental model formation

25 Theory of change 4— Part of the solution is physical We can do what we need to do to solve this. It is not a physical impossibility. We have the resources available. It is not “Easter Island” yet.

26 Things we really need to know If you fill a bathtub faster than in can drain, it will fill and eventually overflow. Undesired results will follow. In the case of the CO 2 bathtub, from some to many of these results will be catastrophic on a planetary scale. The CO 2 drain from our atmosphere is so slow that the CO 2 Bathtub/atmosphere is essentially a tank– and there is only one tank that we all share and depend on. The sooner we stop adding CO 2 to the atmosphere, the easier and cheaper it is avoid the undesired results. One unit of CO 2 reduction effort today produces more net effect than that same unit of effort tomorrow. (“A stitch in time saves nine” or the concept of inflation reducing the purchasing power of money over time) At some temperature, already here in some cases, planetary processes will begin that trigger reinforcing feedback which humans are powerless to stop.

27 Tipping points are out there... This is from 2007 and it has only gotten worse as we learn more

28 Why is the diagnosis of “Change or die” not sufficiently clear? Climate is complex Politics is complex Control of political system by moneyed interests is complex Public attention to a problem seen as “down the road” is low when the economy is bad The stages of grief take some time- Denial — Anger — Bargaining — Depression — Acceptance Time is something we don’t have in abundance

29 Habit and its discontents “…mental model formation is a major economy of conscious thought … The very economy of trial and error which is achieved by mental model formation is only possible because mental models are comparatively ‘hard programmed.’ The economy consists precisely in not reexamining or rediscovering the premises of the mental model every time the mental model is used.” Modifed from Gregory Bateson Steps to an Ecology of Mind, 1978 Mental Model Formation

30 C-ROADS and C-Learn Climate simulations that enhance effective thinking about climate change C -ROADSC limate -R apid O verview A nd D ecision S upport

31 C-ROADS/C-Learn basics C-Learn is a simplified, 3-Region version of C- ROADS The inner workings of the two simulations are essentially the same. The input groupings of countries differ. The world’s countries are grouped into three “regions” based on their level of development and therefore fossil fuel use. Developed economies, Rapidly developing economies and Least developed economies.

32 C-Learn, a two-stock system The C-Learn climate change simulation can be thought of as a two stock system representing – Heat content of Earth which influences climate Climate influences sea level, average temperature, local temperature, precipitation patterns and amounts – Carbon content of the Atmosphere which influences the Heat content of the Earth CO 2 concentration influences the pH of the ocean

33 Carbon and Climate Burning Fossil Fuels increases atmospheric CO 2 the earth’s heat content

34 Fossil Fuel Stock (Global)

35 Stock and its flows in Stella


37 Where does the heat go?

38 Forcings for all components except well-mixed GHGs. Switch over from historical data to projections in 2003. Historical data is smoothed as per MAGICC if Smooth Other Forcing=1 (default = 0 to use actual historical GISS data when available, i.e., 1880-2003). Projections are based on MAGICC-driven scenarios if Test other forcings=1. Projections are based on user-driven scenarios if Control other forcings=1.


40 Climate system has tricky dynamics Tricky because the rate of flow of C into the atmosphere affects the concentration of C in the atmosphere which is what affects the heat content of the Earth, with a significant time delay. Heat can be in the atmosphere, the upper ocean, the deep ocean Water holds much more heat than air (per unit of volume)

41 Multiple delays, multiple effects, multiple details, make our climate system hard to understand There are a variety of effects from increasing C in the atmosphere – Atmospheric CO2 level – Temperature – Sea level – Ocean acidity Delays between actions and climate impacts means that we can’t wait to see what happens before we determine a course of action – Actions cannot be instantaneous – Effects that we see are a result of GHGs released in the past 20-50 years so if we wait until we don’t like what we see and then decide, we will get additional effects beyond our “comfort level” Carbon “exits” the system VERY slowly making climate change essentially irreversible– it is a question of how much change before we stop changing (with a delay added in for just a little bit more “change in the pipeline” after we stop) There are planetary “tipping points” which we DO NOT control once they get started. – Our understanding of when these might be triggered is not well developed.

42 System Dynamics simulation can help us understand in spite of the complexity We can’t wait and see before acting Acting sooner is better and cheaper Just because lots of people act like there is no problem doesn’t mean that there is no problem System Dynamics was made for this type of problem

43 Find out more There are excellent places of knowledge where you can learn more (the upside result from dealing with the deniers) – Skeptical Science – Climate Central – Climate Progress – Climate Denial Crock of the Week –

44 You are alive at an interesting time Now is the time Stay tuned in; stay flexible Help out where you can You are “experts” now What you do matters to your future Keep in touch- we’re in this together

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