It is an undeniable fact that the global climate is warming, as evidenced by multiple indicators, such as temperatures recorded at weather stations or the retreat of glaciers worldwide. It is also very likely that human activities are primarily responsible for this warming trend. The most important anthropogenic climate change drivers are the steadily increasing emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) from the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) and changes in land use (primarily deforestation), which currently exceeds 35 billion metric tons of CO2 per year. The link between these emissions and the climate is provided by the global carbon cycle. Can one manage the global carbon cycle? Finding a workable balance between the need for food and energy versus climate change mitigation poses one of the biggest and most important challenges for our society in the coming decades.
Dr. Martin Heimann is the director of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany. His research focuses on the global cycles of carbon and oxygen, biogeochemical cycles and their interactions with the global climate system, and modeling of atmospheric trace gas transport. Dr. Heimann is a lead author in assessment reports of the Integovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) that was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.
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