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### Math Formula for Climate Emergency

December2

When is an emergency really an emergency?

If you’re the captain of the Titanic, approaching a giant iceberg with the potential to sink your ship becomes an emergency only when you realise you might not have enough time to steer a safe course.

And so it is, says Prof Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, when it comes to the climate emergency.

Knowing how long societies have to react to pull the brake on the Earth’s climate and then how long it will take for the ship to slow down is the difference between a climate emergency and a manageable problem.

Rather than being something abstract and open to interpretation, Schellnhuber says the climate emergency is something with clear and calculable risks that you could put into a formula. And so he wrote one:

Emergency = R × U = p × D × τ / T

In a comment article in the journal Nature, Schellnhuber and colleagues explained that to understand the climate emergency we needed to quantify the relationship between risk (R) and urgency (U).

Borrowing from the insurance industry, the scientists define risk (R) as the probability of something happening (p) multiplied by damage (D).

For example, how likely is it that sea levels will rise by a metre and how much damage will that cause.

Urgency (U) is the time it takes you to react to an issue (τ) “divided by the intervention time left to avoid a bad outcome (T)”, they wrote.

Schellnhuber, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, tells Guardian Australia the work on the formula was just the “tip of a mathematical iceberg” in defining the climate emergency.

“It can be illustrated by the Titanic disaster, but it applies to many severe risks where you can calculate the do-nothing/business-as-usual probability of a highly damaging event,” he says. “Yet there are options to avoid the disaster.

“In other words, this a control problem.”

There is a time lag between the rapid cuts to greenhouse gases and the climate system reacting. Knowing if you have enough time tells you if you’re in an emergency or not.

Schellnhuber used “standard risk analysis and control theory” to come up with the formula, and he was already putting numbers to it.

“As a matter of fact, the intervention time left for limiting global warming to less than 2C is about 30 years at best. The reaction time – time needed for full global decarbonisation – is at least 20 [years].”

As the scientists write in Nature, if the “reaction time is longer than the intervention time left” then “we have lost control”.

Schellnhuber says: “Beyond that critical point, only some sort of adaptation option is left, such as moving the Titanic passengers into rescue boats (if available).” [from: https://www.theguardian.com]

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#### Post Support

10 x 9 x 8 + (7 + 6) x 5 x 4 x (3 + 2) x 1 = 2020

NCEA Level 2 Algebra Problem. Using the information given, the shaded area = 9, that is:
y(y-8) = 9 –> y.y – 8y – 9 =0
–> (y-9)(y+1) = 0, therefore y = 9 (can’t have a distance of – 1 for the other solution for y)
Using the top and bottom of the rectangle,
x = (y-8)(y+2) = (9-8)(9+2) = 11
but, the left side = (x-4) = 11-4 = 7, but rhs = y+? = 9+?, which is greater than the value of the opp. side??
[I think that the left had side was a mistake and should have read (x+4)?]