Like a lot of Hans Rosling's admirers, we discovered his work via his famous 2006 TED talk, “The Best Stats You've Ever Seen.” It was a mind-blowing speech (with more than 11 million views to date) with innovative graphics, good jokes, and a profound message: The world is getting better, and even some of the poorest countries are making progress. Hans was a showman, but he didn't sacrifice an ounce of complexity. He was—and this is a term of honor in our house—a data nerd. We sang his praises to just about anyone who would listen.
Authors: Bill Gates, Melinda Gates
Although the Paris Agreement's goals (1) are aligned with science (2) and can, in principle, be technically and economically achieved (3), alarming inconsistencies remain between science-based targets and national commitments. Despite progress during the 2016 Marrakech climate negotiations, long-term goals can be trumped by political short-termism. Following the Agreement, which became international law earlier than expected, several countries published mid-century decarbonization strategies, with more due soon. Model-based decarbonization assessments (4) and scenarios often struggle to capture transformative change and the dynamics associated with it: disruption, innovation, and nonlinear change in human behavior. For example, in just 2 years, China's coal use swung from 3.7% growth in 2013 to a decline of 3.7% in 2015 (5). To harness these dynamics and to calibrate for short-term realpolitik, we propose framing the decarbonization challenge in terms of a global decadal roadmap based on a simple heuristic—a “carbon law”—of halving gross anthropogenic carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions every decade. Complemented by immediately instigated, scalable carbon removal and efforts to ramp down land-use CO2 emissions, this can lead to net-zero emissions around mid-century, a path necessary to limit warming to well below 2°C.
Authors: Johan Rockström, Owen Gaffney, Joeri Rogelj, Malte Meinshausen, Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber
Make It Rain, Kristine Harper's detailed history of weather control in the United States, includes colorful details of cloud-seeding experiments, but the book is not so much about attempts to control the weather as it is about the political battles waged over the harnessing of the atmosphere: the control of weather control itself. Rather than revealing a history of what we might today call evidence-led policy, the book is a rogue's gallery of policy-led evidence, offering lessons about how science can be used as a tool of the state.
Author: Sarah Dry