Never before in my life have I read a report and felt to the core of my being that every parent who loves their kids must read it. And this is also the first time I have ever opened a column with a mental health warning that what follows may be emotionally disturbing. But when I read the Chatham House Climate Change Risk Assessment report last Friday, I was left devastated at how desperate our situation is. As I thought how best to convey the essential, terrifying message of the report, I decided I should just lay out the raw facts and let them reach your soul. The two most civilisation-shattering facts are these. Firstly, under the current global government commitments to cut carbon emissions, as laid out in the Paris Climate Agreement, we have only a 1 per cent chance of not breaching a 1.5C rise of global temperatures. This is the temperature that prompted 200 health journals around the world, including the British Medical Journal, to simultaneously issue an editorial last week telling governments that passing this 1.5C rise would pose the greatest catastrophic, irreversible threat ever to human health. The second fact is that we have only a 5 per cent chance of avoiding even a 2C rise. Indeed, the authors indicate that if we fail to keep to the current commitments, and instead continue increasing carbon emissions, there is a possibility of hitting a scorching 7C rise. More and more parts of the world would exceed temperatures at which people could safely work outdoors. Such temperatures would be literally lethal for humans without air-conditioning. The report estimates that, by 2050, the UK and western Europe would have about 35 days of heatwaves every year. Forty per cent of cropland would endure severe drought, rising to 50 per cent in a worst-case scenario. This would be up from 9 per cent on average between 1980 and 2010. A 2C rise would lead to an 800 per cent increase in wildfires globally. California, where wildfires are already up 500 per cent, gives humanity a searing glimpse of what the new normal is now extremely likely to be.
Independent 25th Sept 2021 read more »