Climatic change and in particular the notion of “global warming” is a theme of scientific concern that has come into the realm of public awareness since the early 1990s. The severity of the potential impacts of climatic change, in particular in the developing world, has prompted international action at the level of governments to address the problem. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UN-FCCC) was negotiated at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) despite the large range of uncertainties that are inherent to current understanding of the intricacies of mechanisms within the system that lead to its complex behavior. Although subsequent international meetings aimed at implementing the governing articles of the UN-FCCC have made very slow progress, as for example the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that set a calendar for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, there is nevertheless an unprecedented level of concern among the community of nations that climatic change is a genuine problem with potentially far-reaching consequences for environmental and socio-economic systems.
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- Climate, the environment, and humankind: lessons from the past
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