I was hoping it would be a good few years before I wrote this piece. That it would be another decade or so before the visible, fever-inducing realities of climate change combined with the stalling of the Paris Agreement’s promise of a concerted multi-lateral response to this unprecedented global threat. That we’d have made a little more progress before we had to ask ourselves – sleepless and sweltered at one in the morning – ‘what will it really be like when the kids are my age?’ But here we are.
Business Green 7th Aug 2018 read more »
Human actions threaten to push the planet into a new state, called Hothouse Earth. In such a world global average temperatures could stabilise at 4°C or even 5°C higher than they have been for most of human history. Global sea levels, too, would rise, by 10 metres, or even as much as 60 metres, to drown all the world’s great coastal cities. Such a transition might happen “in only a century or two”, but once started, there might be no stopping it. It would be uncontrollable and dangerous to many and “it poses severe risks for health, economies, political stability … and ultimately the habitability of the planet for humans.” And, say scientists who have completed a survey of the research landscape, there is no knowing how close the threshold of dramatic change might be. The planet has already warmed by 1°C in the last century, and the thermometer is climbing at a rate of 0.17°C per decade.
Climate News Network 7th Aug 2018 read more »
This is the summer when, for many, climate change got real. The future looks fiery and dangerous. Hot on the heels of Trump, fake news and the parlous state of the Brexit negotiations, despair is in the air. Now a new scientific report makes the case that even fairly modest future carbon dioxide emissions could set off a cascade of catastrophe, with melting permafrost releasing methane to ratchet up global temperatures enough to drive much of the Amazon to die off, and so on in a chain reaction around the world that pushes Earth into a terrifying new hothouse state from which there is no return. Civilisation as we know it would surely not survive. How do we deal with such news? As a research scientist in this field, I can give some nuance to the headlines. One common way of thinking about climate change is the lower the future carbon dioxide emissions, the less warming and the less havoc we will face as this century progresses. This is certainly true, but as the summer heatwave and the potential hothouse news remind us, the shifts in climate we will experience will not be smooth, gradual and linear changes. They may be fast, abrupt, and dangerous surprises may happen. However, an unstoppable globally enveloping cascade of catastrophe, while possible, is certainly not a probable outcome. Yet, even without a hothouse we are on track to transform Earth this century. The world, after 30 years of warnings, has barely got to grips with reducing carbon dioxide emissions. They need to rapidly decline to zero, but after decades of increases, are, at best, flatlining, with investments in extracting new fossi l fuels continuing, including last month’s scandalous announcement that fracking will be allowed in the UK. Temperatures have increased just 1C above preindustrial levels, and we are on course for another 2C or 3C on top of that. Could civilisation weather this level of warming?
Guardian 7th Aug 2018 read more »
A LEADING environmental charity is urging Scotland to continue its demonstration of climate leadership with a “clear commitment” to slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Remarks from Dr Sam Gardner, acting director of WWF Scotland, came a day after a team of international scientists warned that a climactic “tipping point” could be just decades away. They described it as “Hothouse Earth”, and said the new climate would see temperatures stabilise at up to 5C higher than pre-industrial levels, which would also see sea levels at up to 60 metres higher than now, bringing a threat to coastal communities and leaving areas around the equator uninhabitable. The team said such “tipping elements” are predicted to trigger destructive processes when the temperature hits 2C higher than pre-industrial levels, which Professor Johan Rockstrom, a leading member of the team from Stockholm University, said could potentially act like a row of dominoes.
The National 8th Aug 2018 read more »
What is ‘hothouse Earth’, and how bad would such a climate catastrophe be? This is what we have to look forward to in a future “Hothouse Earth” – a planet that has passed a “tipping point” beyond which its own natural processes trigger uncontrollable warming. It is easy to assume you have heard it all before when it comes to climate change news stories, but the scenario outlined in a new paper by Professor Will Steffen and his colleagues is truly shocking.
Independent 7th Aug 2018 read more »