Quite suddenly, in the wake of the recent IPCC report, it’s become commonplace to talk about a global climate emergency. Al Gore told PBS on 12 October: “We have a global emergency. You use a phrase like that and some people immediately say, ‘okay calm down, it can’t be that bad.’ But it it is.”
On 9 October, a stunning editorial was published in the UK. “The Guardian view on climate change: a global emergency” opened with the sentence: “Climate change is an existential risk to the human race.”
A year ago, that would have been extraordinary, but no longer. (An existential risk is one that poses permanent large negative consequences to humanity which can never be undone, or an adverse outcome that would either annihilate intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential).
Yet the report’s evidence was that 2°C of warming would be catastrophic in so many ways, including for sea-level rise, for coral systems, and for food and water security of hundreds of millions of people, if not more.
The current Paris commitments are a path to 3.4°C of warming, and closer to 5°C when the full range of feedbacks are included.
But even an understatement of the evidence leads to radical conclusions. In response to the report’s release, there was a certain shock and awe, for example by Jeff Goodell in Rolling Stone (“What’s Another Way to Say ‘We’re F-cked’?”) and David Wallace-Wells in New York Magazine (“UN Says Climate Genocide Is Coming. It’s Actually Worse Than That”).
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…