While too many remain in denial, humanity is already suffering the deadly effects of our over-heated atmosphere and our collective condition is worsening rapidly. The report, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), warns the world could hit 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming – the point at which the climate may become dangerously unstable – as soon as the early 2030s.
However, given that deaths from floods, droughts and storms were 15 times higher in the last decade in highly vulnerable regions – home to nearly half of the world’s population – those who live there may justifiably regard their situation as already “dangerous”.
The report expressed “high confidence” that sea levels would continue to rise “for centuries to millennia due to continuing deep ocean warming and ice sheet melt”, with what are currently once-in-a-century floods becoming at least an annual event in much of the world by 2100.
We have caused fundamental changes to Planet Earth. The question remains whether we will continue to press ahead regardless or choose to make the “deep, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions” that the IPCC says would “lead to a discernible slowdown in global warming within around two decades”.
The report notes carbon emissions from existing fossil fuel infrastructure will “exceed the remaining carbon budget” to keep global warming at 1.5C and suggests carbon removal technology is going to be necessary. This is something that should perhaps prompt the UK Government to reconsider providing the necessary funding for the Acorn carbon-capture-and-storage project in Aberdeenshire. However, the expense involved in sucking carbon out of the atmosphere or fossil fuel chimneys on a planetary scale will be considerable. So anything we can do now to limit emissions may help prevent an economic catastrophe that could undermine efforts to deal with the climate one.
Global warming is a deadly disease of the here and now, and unless we take the necessary medicine, the death toll, along with the temperatures, will continue to rise, along with the risk of unstoppable, ‘runaway’ warming. Politicians who fail to take this diagnosis seriously are lost in a fever dream. Their delusions will only lead to disaster.