IPCC climate change red flag
Ok, we knew it was already in motion. We knew things weren't going well. But this week the IPCC published a damning, and concerning, report on the state of our climate. And here's one of the big kickers:
Human influence is "very likely" (90%) the main driver of the global retreat of glaciers since the 1990s and the decrease in Arctic sea-ice
The scientific community are pointing the finger at humanity. We knew this was the case, we knew it wasn't going well. But it's stark to see the finger firmly pointed at humanity like this. Sadly, though, using the phrase "very likely" is a lovely safety net for climate denying lunatics to cling onto.
You would question a doctor that said it's "very likely" that you had a terminal illness. "90%" feels a lot like 100%, unless you're clinging onto hope or conspiring to ignore facts. And in this analogy, humans in a capitalist growth engine are the terminal illness.
Granted, they do say this in their report, but it isn't the headline they've peddled in press kits sadly:
It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred.
Other key points included:
Global surface temperature was 1.09C higher in the decade between 2011-2020 than between 1850-1900.
The past five years have been the hottest on record since 1850
There's nowhere on earth that climate change isn't visible and in-your-face. Fires, bizarre tropical rainstorms, flooding and unpredictable weather are everywhere at various points of the year. And that's just the (largely) Western coverage that I get.
Another interesting point was:
It is "virtually certain" that hot extremes including heatwaves have become more frequent and more intense since the 1950s, while cold events have become less frequent and less severe
Hearing what's happened this year around the world with forest fires, gorse fires and people literally being killed in their homes as a result of a lack of air conditioning has been horrifying. Even in Ireland, a temperate climate by any standards, has had intense weeks of high heat. Nowhere in Europe is built for the kind of heat we saw in July. And this is just another phase in the ever-increasing temperature wars that we're going to feel in the coming decades.
The five key future impacts the IPCC outlined were:
- Temperatures will reach 1.5C above 1850-1900 levels by 2040 under all emissions scenarios
- The Arctic is likely to be practically ice-free in September at least once before 2050 in all scenarios assessed
- There will be an increasing occurrence of some extreme events "unprecedented in the historical record" even at warming of 1.5C
- Extreme sea level events that occurred once a century in the recent past are projected to occur at least annually at more than half of tidal gauge locations by 2100
- There will be likely increases in fire weather in many regions
All-in-all, this is grim. And in my home of Ireland, things are not as bad as elsewhere but that does not forego the Irish authorities' need to act. And now. Just today, the national broadcaster posted a tone deaf critique of Chinese influence on climate. In Ireland, Irish people can influence the Irish government to do better and not go down the finger-wagging route.
And I implore anyone reading this to do the same. Keep the finger wagging local. Do what you can to lessen your households' impact on the climate. Vote on the climate the way you voted around Covid or the economy. It's critical for the survival of the species. And not some future-distant generational thing. We, us, our generation might die because of this shit.