"Offering a stark warning to the world, a new report out Monday argues that the reticence of the world's scientific community—trapped in otherwise healthy habits of caution and due diligence—to downplay the potentially irreversible and cataclysmic impacts of climate change is itself a threat that should no longer be tolerated if humanity is to be motivated to make the rapid and far-reaching transition away from fossil fuels and other emissions-generating industries.
"It is no longer possible to follow a gradual transition path to restore a safe climate. We have left it too late; emergency action, akin to a war footing, will eventually be accepted as inevitable. The longer that takes, the greater the damage inflicted upon humanity." —David Splatt & Ian Dunlop, report authorsIn the new report—titled What Lies Beneath: The Understatement of Existential Climate Risk (pdf)—authors David Splatt and Ian Dunlop, researchers with the National Centre for Climate Restoration (Breakthrough), an independent think tank based in Australia, argue that the existential threats posed by the climate crisis have still not penetrated the collective psyche of humanity and that world leaders, even those demanding aggressive action, have not shown the kind of urgency or imagination that the scale of the pending catastrophe presents.
While the report states that "a fast, emergency-scale transition to a post-fossil fuel world is absolutely necessary to address climate change," it bemoans the fact that this solution continues to be excluded from the global policy debate because it is considered by the powerful as "too disruptive." However, the paper argues, it is precisely this lack of imagination and political will that could doom humanity's future.
As Splatt and Dunlop summarize at Renew Economy, their paper analyzes why:
Human-induced climate change is an existential risk to human civilisation: an adverse outcome that will either annihilate intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential, unless dramatic action is taken.
The bulk of climate research has tended to underplay these risks, and exhibited a preference for conservative projections and scholarly reticence.
IPCC reports tend toward reticence and caution, erring on the side of "least drama," and downplaying the more extreme and more damaging outcomes, and are now becoming dangerously misleading with the acceleration of climate impacts globally.
Why this is a particular concern with potential climatic "tipping points," the passing of critical thresholds which result in step changes in the climate system. Under-reporting on these issues is contributing to the "failure of imagination" in our understanding of, and response to, climate change.
"Climate change is now reaching the end-game," reads the forward to the report by Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, "where very soon humanity must choose between taking unprecedented action, or accepting that it has been left too late and bear the consequences." "
About 15 years ago, by way of casual conversation, my financial adviser asked me what I thought about global warming. Was it really a problem? Should we be doing something about it? I said "Yes, but I think it's probably already too late." I think I was right. And if it was too late 15 years ago, it's WAY too late now.
I remember seeing this video on YouTube before it was popular to watch videos on YouTube ... before Google bought it. Anyway, scientists have been concerned for a very long time that CO2 release would alter the climate. The public seems bored by all of it, unfortunately.
We see evidence of this every day in the Pacific Northwest. Our beautiful mountains are blanketed with smoke today - drifting down from the wildfires in British Columbia. Ash is drifting down. Temperatures are abnormally high. It was 90 degrees in Bellingham, Washington today. That is unheard of. I find myself wondering if we will have to take our future back by force. I have never thought this way in my life.
These authors have hit the nail on the head. Scientists are always aware that even when things look pretty certain they need to produce almost 100% evidence of something or detractors will knock them back. If we wait until we have incontrovertible evidence of climate change it will be too late. The scientists have been telling us and we who know that they can see the indicators believe them. However, those who have different agendas based on economics not science have been able to rubbish the scientific arguments because they demanded absolute proof which in scientific terms can’t be done. Even now the people who make these crucial decisions about our energy usage are in denial. Governments only seem to be able to think as far as their the next election and whether cutting carbon emissions will be popular with the electorate if it means extra taxes to do so. In 2015 The Paris Climate Agreement for the first time had 195 countries sign up to make a multilateral effort to address this increasingly urgent problem of global warming. As we know Mr Trump decided earlier this year that he knew better than all the scientists and withdrew the USA from this accord. If the authors of this report are right, it looks like we may just have passed the point of no return already. Not a happy thought.
In 1950, there were 5 times more people in New York than in Florida.
Today there are 1.06 times more people in Florida than in New York.
Yes, the Earth has become about 1 degree hotter over that time span, but people are still choosing to move from the colder climate of New York to the warmer climate of Florida.
How about we hit the panic button when people stop moving from New York to Florida and start moving from Florida to New York?