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The Boiling Pot

On the surface, things appear normal. The status quo of life in America circa 2016 isn’t to everyone’s liking, but at least the system is still working after a fashion. The price of oil is going up a bit: that means the cost of driving is also creeping higher, but steeper prices provide a little welcome relief for an oil industry otherwise teetering on the brink of financial ruin. There are tiresomely long lines at airports, but that means people have the wherewithal to pay for plane tickets. Most people are disgusted with the presumptive U.S. presidential candidates, but at least the machine of electoral politics is still marginally functioning. The stock market is up, unemployment is down. We’re muddling through.

Or are we? Beneath the lid, a pot of trends is coming to a boil. If Carl Jung was right about the existence of a collective unconscious, it must be seething with nightmares right about now.

So far, 2016 is the hottest year in history. And not by just a smidgen: every single month so far has set a record. This handy little animation has been making the rounds of environmental websites in the last couple of weeks; it shows a climate system that is shooting off the rails.

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Slow, linear change is giving way to self-reinforcing feedbacks and non-linear lurches. Last December (just 6 months ago), delegates to climate talks in Paris agreed to try to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade. Extend the temperature trend shown in that animation for just another few months and we may well be beyond that threshold. How long until we get to two degrees? Three?

Arctic sea ice this month is by far at the lowest extent ever recorded and temperatures in Siberia are rising four times faster than in the rest of the world, releasing enormous amounts of methane and carbon stored in permafrost.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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