By Rob Jordan

Speaking via video, Stanford Woods Institute Senior Fellow Chris Field told international climate negotiators in Doha, Qatar, that they could achieve a “target for concentrated action” on extreme weather caused by climate change only if they address physical hazards, population exposure and vulnerability issues.

Field’s presentation came on the third day of the Nov. 26-Dec. 7 Doha talks, the 18th conference of the 192 signatory countries of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol – the only internationally legally binding regulations on climate protection.

Chris Field | SREX - COP 18 from on Vimeo.


Field is co-chair of a United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) working group that released a special report  called "Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation." In discussing the IPCC report’s findings, Field told an audience in Doha that “the economic losses (from climate change-related extreme weather) are concentrated in the world’s developed countries while the overwhelming majority of loss of life – something like 95 percent of loss of life – is occurring in the world’s developing countries.” A “middle of the road climate scenario,” Field said, would see a tenfold increase in the probability of extreme heat waves in the later decades of this century. The probability and risk of hotter temperatures, heavier rainfall and flooding, and longer, more severe droughts will only grow, he warned.

To mitigate the effect of this extreme weather, nations need to look closely at how their populations have become more vulnerable over time, Field said. That means considering how risks – such as increased exposure or “the amount of stuff in harm’s way” – have changed and how they can be dealt with.

Field is a Stanford professor of biology and environmental earth system science and director of the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science. He was part of a group of researchers who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for their climate change work with the IPCC.