Climate change is often called humanity's biggest challenge of the 21st century, especially following on from the ambitious targets of the Paris climate summit. But climate change is a part of something bigger – the advent of the Anthropocene, the proposed new epoch in Earth history. This talk will focus on climate change in the context of the Anthropocene, taking a longer term perspective on the trajectory of the climate system in the Anthropocene. In particular, the talk will explore the magnitude and rate of contemporary climate change compared to previous shifts in the climate system over the past several million years, and will use this knowledge to project the potential trajectory of the climate system over the next century or two. Finally, the planetary boundaries framework will be introduced as a useful tool to guide further human development towards sustainability, as defined as a safe operating space of the Earth System.


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