The following is excerpted from World on course for catastrophic 6° rise, reveal scientists, a recent article in The Indypendant by Steve Connor and Michael McCarthy
The world is now firmly on course for the worst-case scenario in terms of climate change, with average global temperatures rising by up to 6C by the end of the century, leading scientists said yesterday. Such a rise – which would be much higher nearer the poles – would have cataclysmic and irreversible consequences for the Earth, making large parts of the planet uninhabitable and threatening the basis of human civilization.
We are headed for it, the scientists said, because the carbon dioxide emissions from industry, transport and deforestation which are responsible for warming the atmosphere have increased dramatically since 2002, in a way which no one anticipated, and are now running at triple the annual rate of the 1990s.
This means that the most extreme scenario envisaged in the last report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published in 2007, is now the one for which society is set, according to the 31 researchers from seven countries involved in the Global Carbon Project….
6C rise: The consequences
If two degrees is generally accepted as the threshold of dangerous climate change, it is clear that a rise of six degrees in global average temperatures must be very dangerous indeed, writes Michael McCarthy. Just how dangerous was signalled in 2007 by the science writer Mark Lynas, who combed all the available scientific research to construct a picture of a world with temperatures three times higher than the danger limit.
His verdict was that a rise in temperatures of this magnitude “would catapult the planet into an extreme greenhouse state not seen for nearly 100 million years, when dinosaurs grazed on polar rainforests and deserts reached into the heart of Europe”.
He said: “It would cause a mass extinction of almost all life and probably reduce humanity to a few struggling groups of embattled survivors clinging to life near the poles.”
Very few species could adapt in time to the abruptness of the transition, he suggested. “With the tropics too hot to grow crops, and the sub-tropics too dry, billions of people would find themselves in areas of the planet which are essentially uninhabitable. This would probably even include southern Europe, as the Sahara desert crosses the Mediterranean.
“As the ice-caps melt, hundreds of millions will also be forced to move inland due to rapidly-rising seas. As world food supplies crash, the higher mid-latitude and sub-polar regions would become fiercely-contested refuges.
“The British Isles, indeed, might become one of the most desirable pieces of real estate on the planet. But, with a couple of billion people knocking on our door, things might quickly turn rather ugly.”
Recently, I heard Adam Berman, one of my favorite Jewish spiritual and environmental leaders speak. He asked us to consider Global Climate Change as the mother of all activist issues. That if we don’t all take this issue on on some level in some way, independently or inter-meshed with the rest of our work, all other issues will literally be irrelevant as we will no longer be able to inhabit this planet.
If it were me, I’d emphasis more strongly the idea that we’re not acting like the house is on fire, and the idea that the solution is to come together and organize in new and profound ways. But I think that’s more a style thing than anything.
So why aren’t we acting like the house is on fire? For me, this issue huge, scary, daunting; far too much to contemplate and take on alone. Which is why there is such a deep and dire need to start talking about it, thinking about it, and coming together to organize and taking action in profound, new ways. With such a huge and overwhelming challenge before us, the solution/s will likely also be unfamaliar to us, outside the normal boundaries of our usual conception framework. This is an amazing opportunity to revolutionize our relationship to ourselves, our communities and this planet!
The most remarkable feature of this historical moment on Earth is not that we are on the way to destroying the world-we’ve actually been on the way for quite a while. It is that we are beginning to wake up, as from a millennia-long sleep, to a whole new relationship to our world, to ourselves and each other. –Joanna Macey