The SABF had the honour of having Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber answer some questions regarding climate change. Professor Schellnhuber is the Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and is a reknown specialist in his field. On behalf of the SABF team, we thank Professor Schellnhuber for taking his time to adress our inquiries.
SABF: How do you rebut those who claim that Climate Change is an issue which is exaggerated many a time, and that global warming is at times another form of Yellow Journalism?
HJS: Simply because climate change has become a popular issue on the political agenda, I consider it totally wrong to write it off as just another form of
Yellow Press. Climate change is an extremely serious matter which increasingly concerns me and which needs to be taken very seriously around the globe. Latest scientific findings show that business as usual could cause a 5 degree warming by the end of the century, with sea-level rise of more than one meter in the same period and of tens-of-meters in the long run. You can imagine that the world would look totally different then. Looking back on the development of the climate debate, I rather think that we have underestimated the issue.
SABF: Developing countries are the most vulnerable to climate changes, and of course, to the phenomena associated with global warming. Which are the measures that such countries could take to minimize their risks to the greatest
extent possible? What about cost-effective measures that such countries can indeed afford?
HJS: That is indeed a difficult question. The impacts of climate change do have different effects on different countries. Some might be affected by floods, others by the shortage of drinking water, others again by the increasing
frequency of hurricanes. Hence the various forms of adaptation such as disaster control, malaria prevention or sustained management of the water resources have to be different according to the different forms of impact. Seen
globally the impacts of climate change are unfortunately distributed very unfairly. Industrialized countries, which cause most of the worldwide emissions, are able to protect themselves more effectively than developing countries. But we have to keep the following in mind: the most cost-effective measures against all risks of global warming are substantial steps to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
SABF: How can youth the world over get involved in understanding this complex issue, because it is of utmost criticality that the young leaders learn about climate change, its effects and start spreading the awareness on a local level and global level?
HJS: The younger generation must develop an awareness of not only being able to influence its own future but the future of our planet as well. The key to understanding lies in generating and disseminating profound knowledge about
climate change. Education is a crucial instrument on the local as well as on the global level. If you, the young people, do not care about the future, who else will?