Planetary ‘vital signs’ show extent of climate stress — and some hope. Glaciers are melting at a record pace. Data show that sea level is at its highest ever and that the concentration of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide in the Earth’s atmosphere is more dense than ever. Eighteen of the 31 indicators tracked by a group of scientists have recently reached their extremes. But not all are seen negatively — some provide a faint light of hope. Wind and solar energy usage is expected to increase by a third this year, for example from 2019 levels. The value of global subsidies for fossil fuels decreased by more than 40% in 2020 compared to the previous year. In addition, sales of fossil fuel assets by pension funds, educational institutions, governments and other organizations continued to grow, rising from $ 11.5 trillion in the previous year to up to $ 14 trillion in 2020. However, the authors now conclude that the scale of climate change measures is not sufficient to reverse the main trend of concern. “We are in a climate emergency … It’s a very dangerous climate emergency,” says William J. Ripple, a professor of ecology and co-author at Oregon State University. “At this point, it’s important to do something that has a quick effect.”
FT 1st Aug 2021 read more »
From here, even an astonishing pace of decarbonisation will still deliver us a warmer world than we have today, full of more eye-opening extremes and more deeply disruptive disasters of the kind, we are learning this summer, that even the wealthiest and most climate-conscious countries are unprepared for. No one is. That is what Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor, meant when he wrote, with the capital inundated, that the city was now on the frontline of the climate emergency and it is the central lesson of the Met Office’s annual report on the state of the UK climate, which found that mild British weather was already a relic of a bygone era. The Climate Crisis Advisory Group, led by Sir David King, recently declared that greenhouse gas levels were already so high that they foreclosed a “manageable future for humanity”. “Nowhere is safe,” King said, provoking a host of headlines. Unfortunately, to this point, while mortality from natural disaster has fallen dramatically over the past 100 years, the returns on engineered adaptations to climate impacts, in particular, have been maddeningly spotty. Advocates point to awe-inspiring flood-management systems in the Netherlands, but the $14bn levees built in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 don’t protect against category-five hurricanes today. The challenges will grow, in some cases exponentially, but the blueprint of adaptation is there for all to see, a photo-negative of all of the impacts that scientists have told us to expect even within the next few decades: heat stress and sea-level rise, wildfires and river flooding, agricultural decline, economic stagnation, migration crises, conflict and state collapse.
Observer 1st Aug 2021 read more »