New Insights for Climate Change Mitigation: Understanding Human Influences through Land Use and Fossil Fuel Emissions


Science magazine will publish in the May 29, 2009, issue the paper, The Two-Thousand-Billion Ton Carbon Gorilla: Implications of Limiting CO2 Concentrations on Land Use and Energy by M.Wise, K. Calvin, A. Thomson, L. Clarke, B. Bond-Lamberty, R. Sands, S. Smith, A. Janetos, and J. Edmonds. This paper summarizes findings, funded in part by DOE’s Office of Science, that limiting atmospheric CO2 concentrations to low levels require strategies to manage anthropogenic carbon emissions from terrestrial systems as well as fossil fuel and industrial sources. The authors explore the implications of fully integrating terrestrial systems and the energy system into a comprehensive mitigation regime that limits atmospheric CO2 concentrations. They find that this comprehensive approach lowers the cost of meeting environmental goals but also carries with it profound and largely unappreciated implications for agriculture: unmanaged ecosystems and forests expand, and food crop and livestock prices rise. The authors also find that future improvement in food crop productivity directly affects land-use change emissions, making the technology for growing crops potentially important for limiting atmospheric CO2 concentrations. The paper derives from a full report by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, February 2009, entitled, The Implications of Limiting CO2 Concentrations for Agriculture, Land Use, Land-use Change Emissions and Bioenergy (PNNL 17943).