Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Climate change: The bad news

Today's must-read: The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells in New York magazine. It looks at the expected consequences of climate change and points out just how fucking awful its going to be, just how badly our parents and grandparents have screwed us. If current trends continue and emissions continue to rise, great chunks of the world are going to become uninhabitable, while major urban areas like New York will become the sort of places people can only survive with air-conditioning and never going out during the day (ironicly, a shutdown of the Gulf Stream might be the only thing which saves them). And that's the least of it. We're also looking at global famine as current food-production areas become less productive in higher temperatures; at forgotten diseases bubbling out of the permafrost; at a significant increase in war as countries and people struggle over these challenges; and economic collapse from the damage all of this causes. And of course a mass extinction of the world's wildlife... which might potentially include us if things go very badly.

Some of this is preventable if emissions drop sharply. But its a real question now of how much climate change is already baked in, and how much our past stupidity has committed us to. We are probably already in the situation, to steal a phrase from Kim Stanley Robinson, of bolting the stable door after the four horsemen have escaped. But we probably still have a short window to avert the worst. Probably.

This ought to be a call to action. We need a government which will set us on a rapid path to decarbonisation, and which will push hard for global efforts to do the same. National won't do either (neither, I should add, will NZ First - they're still in the denier / do nothing camp). We need a change. Otherwise, we may all burn.