Recent Climate Updates

The articles and commentary below capture some of the rapidly growing alarm at the escalating crisis:

THIS ONE IS VITAL The heat is on over the climate crisis. Only radical measures will work: “Drowned cities; stagnant seas; intolerable heatwaves; entire nations uninhabitable… and more than 11 billion humans. A four-degree-warmer world is the stuff of nightmares and yet that’s where we’re heading in just decades….However, that global heating took place over many thousands of years. Even at its most rapid, the rise in CO2 emissions occurred at a rate 1,000 times slower than ours has since the start of the Industrial Revolution. That gave animals and plants time to adapt to new conditions and, crucially, ecosystems had not been degraded by humans.The good news is that humans won’t become extinct – the species can survive with just a few hundred individuals; the bad news is, we risk great loss of life and perhaps the end of our civilisations. Many of the places where people live and grow food will no longer be suitable for either. Higher sea levels will make today’s low-lying islands and many coastal regions, where nearly half the global population live, uninhabitable, generating an estimated 2 billion refugees by 2100. Bangladesh alone will lose one-third of its land area, including its main breadbasket.”

Climate Change and the New Age of Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert: “On the order of a million species are now facing extinction, “many within decades.” “What’s at stake here is a liveable world,” Robert Watson, the chairman of the group, Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, told Science.”

A paper raising concerns about negative emission technologies: “Recent publications, however, raise concerns about the broader political and economic feasibility of compatible emission trajectories, which typically rely on large-scale deployment of Negative Emission Technologies (NETs)—a type of pilot backstop technology that is often associated with enormous amounts of natural land loss, stranded assets by 2100, a potentially dangerous emission overshoot level and resulting fundamental ethical issues of intergenerational equity”

Commentary by Zoe Williams about the issue of climate hypocrisy in our individual lives:  “The counsel of perfection, looking for the hypocrisy in anyone taking a position distinguishable from naked self-interest, is actually slightly worse than a counsel of despair: it takes pointlessness one step further, besmirching everyone, sucking the energy out of everything. Nobody will ever be good enough on these terms. You might eschew planes but get caught eating a burger; you might be a vegan, but have you seen the environmental cost of soya?

The climate emergency, being a crisis, needs radical action; transfer that on to any individual, and the only way not to be a hypocrite is to live off-grid, the downside of which is that, now, you have removed yourself from culture, and even if anyone gets to hear of you it’s as a crank.”

Lessons From a Genocide Can Prepare Humanity for Climate Apocalypse By Roy Scranton: “One historical analogy stands out with particular force: the European conquest and genocide of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Here, truly, a world ended. Many worlds, in fact. Each civilization, each tribe, lived within its own sense of reality — yet all these peoples saw their lifeworlds destroyed and were forced to struggle for cultural continuity beyond mere survival, a struggle that the Anishinaabe poet Gerald Vizenor calls “survivance.”

The philosopher Jonathan Lear has thought deeply about this problem in his book Radical Hope. He considers the case of Plenty Coups, the last great chief of the Apsáalooke people, also known as the Crow tribe.

Plenty Coups guided the Crow through the forced transition from life as nomadic warrior-hunters to peaceful, sedentary ranchers and farmers. This transition involved a harrowing loss of meaning, yet Plenty Coups was able to articulate a meaningful and even hopeful way forward.”

The world is heating faster than previously thought: “Over the past two years, we’ve learned that key impacts of climate change, like the melting of ice, the rise in sea level, and the increase in devastating weather extremes, are playing out faster than our models projected just a few years ago,” said Michael Mann of Penn State.

Slow burn? The long road to a zero-emissions UK:“In the end, it will simply not be possible to reduce Britain’s fossil-fuel emissions to zero, say scientists. To compensate, we will have to take carbon dioxide back out of the atmosphere. “That is the logical, inevitable consequence of trying to achieve zero net emissions in this country,” argues Corinne Le Quéré, of the University of East Anglia. ‘If you are looking for any net zero target then you have to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.’”

And a poem from 2005

Thanks

Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you
with the animals dying around us
taking our feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
thank you we are saying and waving
dark though it is

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