The last year or so has seen more scientific papers and presentations that raise the genuine prospect of catastrophe (if we stay on our current emissions path) that I can recall seeing in any other year.
As Elizabeth Kolbert says:
“It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing.”
I’ll leave you to read the full post and follow up the copious links as you please. Here I’ll just list the headings so that you can overview them:
1. Nature: “Global warming blamed for 40% decline in the ocean’s phytoplankton”
2. Science: Vast East Siberian Arctic Shelf methane stores destabilizing and venting
3. Must-read NCAR analysis warns we risk multiple, devastating global droughts even on moderate emissions path
4. Nature Geoscience study: Oceans are acidifying 10 times faster today than 55 million years ago when a mass extinction of marine species occurred and “Geological Society: Acidifying oceans spell marine biological meltdown “by end of century”
5. Sea levels may rise 3 times faster than IPCC estimated, could hit 6 feet by 2100 [see figure] and these related findings and studies
6. Royal Society: “There are very strong indications that the current rate of species extinctions far exceeds anything in the fossil record.”
7. Science: Drought drives decade-long decline in plant growth
8. Nature review of 20 years of field studies finds soils emitting more CO2 as planet warms
9. Global Warming: Future Temperatures Could Exceed Livable Limits, Researchers Find.
10. UK Met Office: Catastrophic climate change, 13-18°F over most of U.S. and 27°F in the Arctic, could happen in 50 years, but “we do have time to stop it if we cut greenhouse gas emissions soon.”
On that last one I think they are talking 10C at the equator and 15C at the poles.
Each one of these should have generated an emergency meeting of the G8, the G20, the UN, the World Bank, the IMF the WTO and every other damned thing.
The direct link is here.
I seem to remember also a significant article at the Washington Post recently, so perhaps things are changing.
I’ll conclude this post with a very measured quote from Barry Brook at BraveNewClimate:
What of the future? There is no doubt that climate predictions carry a fair burden of scientific ambiguity, especially regarding feedbacks in climatic and biological systems. Yet what is not widely appreciated among non-scientists is that more than half of the uncertainty, captured in the scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is actually related to our inability to forecast the probable economic and technological development pathway global societies will take during the twenty-first century. As a forward-thinking and risk averse species, it is certainly within our power to anticipate the manifold impacts of anthropogenic climate change, and so make the key economic and technological choices required to substantially mitigate our carbon emissions. But will we act in time, and will it be with sufficient gusto? And can nature adapt?
Only if we take aggressive action on mitigation. Soon.