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The geographic disparity of historical greenhouse emissions and projected climate change
Van Houtan, K.S.; Tanaka, K.R.; Gagne, T.O.; Becker, S.L. (2021). The geographic disparity of historical greenhouse emissions and projected climate change. Science Advances 7(29): eabe4342.
In: Science Advances. AAAS: New York. ISSN 2375-2548, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Van Houtan, K.S.
  • Tanaka, K.R.
  • Gagne, T.O.
  • Becker, S.L.

    One challenge in climate change communication is that the causes and impacts of global warming are unrelated at local spatial scales. Using high-resolution datasets of historical anthropogenic greenhouse emissions and an ensemble of 21st century surface temperature projections, we developed a spatially explicit index of local climate disparity. This index identifies positive (low emissions, large temperature shifts) and negative disparity regions (high emissions, small temperature shifts), with global coverage. Across all climate change projections we analyzed, 99% of the earth’s surface area has a positive index value. This result underscores that while emissions are geographically concentrated, warming is globally widespread. From our index, the regions of the greatest positive disparity appear concentrated in the polar arctic, Central Asia, and Africa with negative disparity regions in western Europe, Southeast Asia, and eastern North America. Straightforward illustrations of this complex relationship may inform on equity, enhance public understanding, and increase collective global action.

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