An examination and an opinion - Eco blog for Winchester Hub

There is a lot of information floating around in the news about government targets and international treaties. Why?

*This will get worse before it gets better - but it WILL get better, (IF you read to the end).

You’ve heard that the world is warming, you’ve probably seen that governments around the globe are picking to be carbon neutral by 2050, you’ve seen the declarations that “we are  working to limit warming to 2 degrees C”. But why 2 degrees, why carbon neutral, what motivates that and what does it look like?

2 degrees as a safe level of warming is a lie. At 2 degrees C vast swathes of the world are now uninhabitable, hundreds of millions of people are starving to death because staple crops no longer grow. People have had to move in order to survive - the great migration of humanity has begun. Wars are breaking out over water that is now so scarce it is as valuable as gold. The record heat waves that we’ve experienced throughout the last two decades are now normal. The elderly and the infirm die every summer, so do babies. This is now normal. The arctic is ice free, the zombie fires burn in the arctic permafrost year round. Caribbean islands have been swallowed by the sea. Huge numbers of species are now extinct or have moved so far north or south to try to survive the change in temperature that every biodynamic system we grew up with has been hit by the change. The coral reef is dead and gone - a distant memory stored in a photograph. It means the freak floods in England are now yearly, it means that the freak hurricanes are normal, it means that we’re all used to being hungry and scared.

That’s what 2 degrees looks like. That’s what governments are stating is a safe level of warming. I don’t agree, do you?

What does 1.5 degrees C warming look like? It means that we’ve had slightly longer to move the people off the islands that are disappearing below the sea. It means that the yearly death toll from freak weather and climate caused starvation is in the tens of millions not hundreds. It means that if we manage it right we can still grow a proportion of food in the way that we are accustomed to. It means that life is more difficult, it means that we are constantly on the verge of overstepping the bounds and setting off the feedback mechanisms that went wild at 2 degrees.

We are currently on track for between a 3 - 6 degree C rise in temperature (not factoring in the (known) feedback loops - such as the methane clathrate eruptions that are currently happening in the deep sea and the tundra, or the zombie fires in the arctic, or the loss of the albedo effect from the disappearing ice).

What does a world like that look like?

It means that organised human civilisation has ended. It means that the small percentage of humans left alive are desperately poor. It means your children died in agony in front of your eyes, just after your parents and grandparents, and most of your friends did. It means that 70% of all species on earth are dead. There is no food. There is no clean water. It means that we have created a hellscape. It means that we have failed as a civilisation and as a species. We are the first and only species to have the capacity to influence the atmosphere and we have used that power to kill ourselves in the worst way possible.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Every 0.1 of a degree C rise in temperature increases the damage that we are doing and increases the likelihood that feedback mechanisms will be triggered that cause the rise in temperature to spiral upwards. That damage is not spread equally. This last year as a global average we are 1.3 degrees C warmer than the 1880 average (that’s not “pre-industrial” that’s just the date that is found most convenient to reference), parts of the arctic are 16 degrees C warmer than they have ever been recorded as being. The roads are melting in Canada. The arctic is on fire. The tundra is belching methane like it’s downed a yard of ale.

Why did I say that it gets better if you read to the end? Because, just as every 0.1 degree rise makes things worse, every 0.1 degree we reduce the temperature by not only limits the damage but improves the positive.

How do we fix this mess?

We recognise that change (and survival) is eminently possible. We have the technology, the knowledge, the ability to fix this. The world doesn’t ‘have’ to burn down around our ears. We, and more specifically ‘our’ governments, are choosing to make that the case.

Governments can be changed.

What is acceptable to you? Where do you lay your hat? Are you backing the death of everyone, or fighting for what's right?

We can choose to implement the change that means we’ll survive. It doesn’t have to end this way. The choice is ours.

There are hundreds of organisations and thousands upon thousands of people that have made it their life mission to stop the world getting close to reaching those cataclysmic rises in temperature.

We are currently 1.3 degrees C warmer than a healthy balanced planet, if we do nothing it spirals. If we let the governments and institutions decide what is acceptable, the world warms 2 degrees C minimum. We have the capacity to make that not be the case. We have not just the capability and the capacity, but we have the knowledge and the technology to change that. Choose. What do you find acceptable?

Again, the technology and the knowledge to stop all of this exists. We just have to do it. We are heading towards a cliff, do you want to let the car keep accelerating or hit the breaks?

Steve Hallett 03.12.2020