(The full article was first published in Dot Earth, Blog, March 13, 2009 and republished in “The New York Times, Science issue Sunday June 21 2009.
COPENHAGEN — A scientist known for his aggressive stance on climate policy made an apocalyptic prediction on Thursday.
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, said that if the buildup of greenhouse gases and its consequences pushed global temperatures 9 degrees Fahrenheit higher than today — well below the upper temperature range that scientists project could occur from global warming — Earth’s population would be devastated.
[UPDATED, 6:10 p.m: The preceding line was adjusted to reflect that Dr. Schellnhuber was not describing a worst-case warming projection. h/t to Joe Romm.]
“In a very cynical way, it’s a triumph for science because at last we have stabilized something –- namely the estimates for the carrying capacity of the planet, namely below 1 billion people,” said Dr. Schellnhuber, who has advised German Chancellor Angela Merkel on climate policy and is a visiting professor at Oxford.
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The Copenhagen meeting at which this talk was presented refers to the International Scientific Congress on climate change under the heading “Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges and Decisions”, 10-12 March 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The congress was organised in cooperation with nine other universities in the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU). The host was the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. (http://climatecongress.ku.dk/about/)