Is it time to adapt to climate change?
Scientists have each year become more confident in their forecasts of the consequences of climate change and global warming for us, for Homo sapiens, and many other species. Enlightened self-interest should lead us to address this threat to our existence. But it isn’t. Politicians are more concerned about bequeathing debt to the next generation than they are about greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, a far more dangerous inheritance.
Nevermind the patter watch the hands
George Monbiot has clinically, and with substantial evidence, laid bare the chasm between the rhetoric and extravagant PR commitments, “higher targets appear to be a substitute for action.” Having targets and policy objectives is not enough – we need to implement them. In the UK new homes are being built “which will either require a much more expensive refit or will lock in high emissions for the rest of their lives.” The UK has since the beginning of the industrial revolution been pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the polluting legacy of our prosperity. As we have deindustrialised we have offshored jobs and carbon emissions: “the greenhouse gases embedded in the stuff we buy, that account for some 46% of our emissions. Government ministers urge China to cut its greenhouse gases, but our economic model depends on us buying junk we don’t need with money we don’t have. Because the fossil fuels required to produce most of it are burnt overseas and don’t appear in our national accounts, the government can wash its hands of the problem.”!
The consequences of climate change are now a “real and present danger”. David Wallace-Wells writes regularly for New York Magazine on science. Last week an unprecedented and dangerous heatwave scorched the Pacific north-west of the USA. Jay Inslee, Washington’s governor, said on MSNBC, “This is the beginning of a permanent emergency… We have to tackle the source of this problem, which is climate change.” “More than 58.4 million people live in areas affected by the drought, according to the US Drought Monitor, and a record 49.7% of the west is now in the highest categories of “extreme” and “exceptional” drought levels.” In British Columbia, it was as hot as it was in Death Valley, California. They called it Death Valley for a reason. more
As David Wallace-Wells pointed out a few days ago
“Prophecies often come true as anticlimaxes, the predictions themselves having set the stage too well — serving to acculturate as well as alarm, introducing first and then effectively normalizing the possibility of events that would have seemed, not so long ago, unthinkable. Climate activists, often privately despondent themselves, have long worried about the costs of alarmism as a rhetorical strategy, warning it would end not in panicked action but fatalism and despair. What worries me more, as an avowed alarmist, is not that dire warnings inspire leaders and potential activists to give up but that, in shifting our expectations, they encourage us to count as successes any merely catastrophic outcomes that fall short of true apocalypse — and make us see what should be freakish showcases of climate horror nevertheless on a continuum with “normal” rather than as signs of profound ecological disjuncture. Adaptability is a virtue, or at least a tool, in a time of cascading environmental change like the one we are stepping into now. It is also a painkiller or a form of climate dementia.”
“Already, scientists have discovered that across Pakistan and throughout the Persian Gulf, regions have reached combinations of temperature and humidity that are literally beyond the human threshold of survivability. The term for this measure is “wet-bulb temperature… ” Raymond, Matthews & Horton revealed in May 2020 in Science Advances the health and morbidity consequences of extreme humid heat and that occurrences have ” more than doubled in frequency since 1979.”
As temperatures reached 49.6C (121.3F) in Lytton, British Columbia, with a “Heat Dome” over the Pacific northwest President Biden has understood that the heatwave is tied to climate change and has announced a plan to update the country’s infrastructure network. more
The USA experienced an unprecedented 22, billion-dollar disasters in 2020.
Juan Moreno-Cruz, Associate Professor SEED and Canada Research Chair in Energy Transitions, @jmorenocruz, tweeted on 30 June ” Climate alarmism is useless. The impacts of climate change are here. Let’s talk about climate realism.” And challenged us to “Stop dreaming up climate solutions, think of climate managing strategies. Managing climate change is not as sexy as solving climate change, but it’s what we need.” It is a real and present danger.
Despair and Denial paralyse us.
Clover Hogan in a 12 minute TEDxLondonWomen speaks powerfully about how young people are falling into despair while adults make sense of their situation through denial -someone else will fix it. With great responsibility comes great power?
David Saddington was 13 in June 2005 in North Yorkshire when rain caused extensive flooding, trapped by rising water, his initial excitement turned to fear. With that came the realisation that there would be more frequent and more damaging extreme weather events . David realises that we have come to see climate change as academic science. He argues that it isn’t about the science it is about the consequences. “We’ve oversold climate science so much that people switch off.” Watch his TEDxTeen talk “Why I Don’t Care About Climate Change” Watch on YouTube
The agenda for action is no longer only about mitigation, we have procrastinated for so long that we have now to mitigate and adapt. We should remind ourselves that we shall not destroy our Earth, we are just making it less hospitable for ourselves, and many other species. We are creating for our children and grandchildren a much less benign environment, our failure to take responsibility will impact negatively on the lives of our descendants for generations. There is nothing inevitable about progress, as we bump up against the limits of what our planet can sustain we can expect living standards to decline. As the Oxford academic, Kate Rawnforth has explained “Humanity’s 21st-century challenge is to meet the needs of all within the means of the planet. In other words, to ensure that no one falls short on life’s essentials (from food and housing to healthcare and political voice), while ensuring that collectively we do not overshoot our pressure on Earth’s life-supporting systems…”
More of us must take responsibility and act.