The warning signs are flashing red. The California wildfires were surely made worse by the impacts of global heating. A study published in July warned that the Arctic is undergoing “an abrupt climate change event” that will probably lead to dramatic changes. As if to underline the point, on 14 September it was reported that a huge ice shelf in northeast Greenland had torn itself apart, worn away by warm waters lapping in from beneath. That same day, a study of satellite data revealed growing cracks and crevasses in the ice shelves protecting two of Antarctica’s largest glaciers – indicating that those shelves could also break apart, leaving the glaciers exposed and liable to melt, contributing to sea-level rise. The ice losses are already following our worst-case scenarios. These developments show that the harmful impacts of global heating are mounting, and should be a prompt to urgent action to cut greenhouse gas emissions. But the case for emissions cuts is actually even stronger. That is because scientists are increasingly concerned that the global climate might lurch from its current state into something wholly new – which humans have no experience dealing with. Many parts of the Earth system are unstable. Once one falls, it could trigger a cascade like falling dominoes. “For me, the strongest evidence base at the moment is for the idea that we could be committing to a ‘wethouse’, rather than a hothouse,” says Lenton. “We could see a cascade of ice sheet collapses.” This would lead to “a world that has no substantive ice in the northern hemisphere and a lot less over Antarctica, and the sea level is 10 to 20 metres higher”. Such a rise would be enough to swamp many coastal megacities, unless they were protected. The destruction of both the polar ice sheets would be mediated by the weakening or collapse of the AMOC, which would also weaken the Indian monsoon and disrupt the west African one.
Guardian 19th Sept 2020 read more »
Richard Curtis, creator of some of the best-loved romantic comedies of all time – Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’s Diary and Love Actually – is back with a new film. This time, there’s little to laugh about. The Bafta winner, 63, features in Our Planet: Too Big To Fail, a documentary released on Friday from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Silverback Films, the team behind Netflix series Our Planet and David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet. The film, which includes Sir David and former governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney, is a sweeping look at the global climate crisis and the flawed financial system which has played a significant role in bringing the planet to the brink of catastrophe.
Independent 19th Sept 2020 read more »