Two years ago I posted the latest plot of global temperature, and argued that if trends continue, as they are likely to do, the Great Barrier Reef has little chance of surviving beyond 2030 as more than a sad remnant in its southern reaches. Even if we suddenly got serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions the warming will still continue for 2-4 decades, and the damage would only be deferred.
The greater danger is that the warming will tip into being irreversible if it is not soon reversed. In that case our grandchildren would inherit a very different and hostile world.
There is a climate crisis. Deniers commonly have one or two facts that they claim show the scientists are wrong: the climate has always changed, carbon dioxide is only a tiny fraction of the atmosphere, and so on. They have an endless supply of supposed justifications for doing nothing.
Evidently the deniers imagine the climate scientists never thought of these objections, never investigated them. Well, they did.
I still encounter people who say ‘There’s always been climate change’, meaning don’t worry about global warming, it’s not our fault and there’s nothing we can do about it. You hear other excuses too. So should we not worry about the Reef and the rivers, about Townsville, about Tasmania, about the kelp forests and the mangrove forests and the many other symptoms of a climate awry?
Do the ‘sceptics’ think the scientists haven’t thought of all the ‘reasons’ they find to ignore global warming? Evidently so. But of course the scientists aren’t quite that stupid. They have thought of all those possible ways out of the conclusions, and a lot more besides. They’ve checked them all out. They don’t work.
Global warming, caused by us, is still there, pretty much on the course predicted decades ago. Except that it may now be accelerating.
The Great Barrier Reef is unlikely to survive as more than a small, sad remnant of its past glory. The reason is straightforward. It is well known in climate science that even if we stopped harmful emissions tomorrow global warming would not peak for another several decades. By then most of the reef will be long gone.
This is not pleasant news, and clearly many would prefer it was not said, but there it is, the argument is simple and the conclusion is difficult to avoid.
There was no big revelation, just a train of thought. Nearly a quarter of the Great Barrier Reef is dead, and there has been no discernible political response. Global temperature is rising off the chart, only glancingly noted in the torrent of chatter. The decades-long trend of ever-more perverse and destructive politics continues. Societies are fragmenting.
For perhaps two decades I have held to the thought that while ever there was a chance of avoiding a planetary tipping point I would continue explaining how we can avoid the worst. Through that time, the path to a healthy, stable world has become clearer and more obvious, demonstrated in a thousand practical, small-scale ways. All that time the window of opportunity was closing. It is, in my judgement, barely open any more.
[ The first part of this post is an article I’ll peddle around the traps. After that I provide some more detail, which is quite illuminating, especially a changing gif and a video. I was alerted to all this by Grist. ]
Perhaps in this season of heat and fire we might finally stop listening to climate denialists, the vast majority of whom are not scientists. Their only remaining argument is a grand conspiracy theory. Despite what you hear in mainstream discussion, the evidence supporting the conclusions of climate scientists is very strong, and just gets stronger.
Take, for example, the claim that global warming has stopped. This claim has been around for quite a few years now, but it got a bit of a boost recently when that well-known bastion of sober scientific analysis, Britain’s Daily Mail, interrupted its usual fare of tits, celebrity scandal and tits to misconstrue a UK Met Office report, claiming the report showed there has been no warming for 16 years. The claim is bunk, and a debunking is provided by the website The Carbon Brief, among others.
Meanwhile a careful analysis of the recent record of global warming that came out a year ago has made little or no impression on public discussion. It shows very simply and clearly that global warming has proceeded steadily for the past thirty years.