Did you know that a single flawed doomsday model is the basis for most modern climate policy?
It's called the Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5, or RCP 8.5.
Robinson Meyer tried describing what an RCP is in the Atlantic:
"When climate scientists want to tell a story about the future of the planet, they use a set of four standard scenarios called 'representative concentration pathways,' or RCPs. RCPs are ubiquitous in climate science, appearing in virtually any study that uses climate models to investigate the 21st century. They’ve popped up in research about subjects as disparate as southwestern mega-droughts, future immigration flows to Europe, and poor nighttime sleep quality.
"Each RCP is assigned a number that describes how the climate will fare in the year 2100. Generally, a higher RCP number describes a scarier fate: It means that humanity emitted more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere during the 21st century, further warming the planet and acidifying the ocean. The best-case scenario is called RCP 2.6. The worst case is RCP 8.5."
In other words, RCP 8.5 is the most unlikely and the most unrealistic outcome for humanity.
It's what would happen if we burned all the coal under our feet in the most dirty fashion.
But RCP 8.5 has become a baseline target when creating climate policy.
Joining me tonight to discuss how this doomsday scenario became the benchmark for carbon taxation, and to tell us about her new children's book about climate reality is Michelle Stirling from Friends of Science.