Have you noticed the way the weather is being reported lately? Climate change, specifically global warming, as evidenced by the dramatic increase in severe storms and the decrease in polar ice…they’re making it entertaining. Entertaining, for gawdsake.
Commentators refer to “extreme storms” — making them sound all exciting and daring, like “extreme sports”.
Another opens with “this week’s wildest weather” as if we’re on a fun safari.
And there’s a video called “Force of Nature – Uncut”. Again, exciting entertainment.
“Will any records be broken?” the commentator asks, the phrasing suggesting that, like athletic competitions, breaking a record will be a good thing.
And on the weather network website, the “photo of the day” shows a huge iceberg afloat, testament to the alarming melt of the polar ice, and the caption reads, unbelievably, “Anyone else see a face in the iceberg?”
They’ve turned the death of our planet into entertainment.
(Oh, and they’re referring to “acts of weather”. Not, like, acts of humanity. Oh no, we had nothing to do with it. And of course we don’t want to blame someone’s god.)
Even if greenhouse emissions stopped overnight the concentrations already in the atmosphere would still mean a global rise of between 0.5 and 1C. A shift of a single degree is barely perceptible to human skin, but it’s not human skin we’re talking about. It’s the planet; and an average increase of one degree across its entire surface means huge changes in climatic extremes.
…Six thousand years ago, when the world was one degree warmer than it is now, the American agricultural heartland around Nebraska was desert. … The effect of one-degree warming, therefore, requires no great feat of imagination. … Whilst snow-covered ice reflects more than 80% of the sun’s heat, the darker ocean absorbs up to 95% of solar radiation. Once sea ice begins to melt, in other words, the process becomes self-reinforcing. More ocean surface is revealed, absorbing solar heat, raising temperatures and making it unlikelier that ice will re-form next winter. The disappearance of 720,000 square kilometres of supposedly permanent ice in a single year testifies to the rapidity of planetary change. …Chance of avoiding one degree of global warming: zero. …When temperatures were last between 1 and 2C higher than they are now, 125,000 years ago, sea levels were five or six metres higher too. All this “lost” water is in the polar ice that is now melting. …
In the last century, the average global temperature has risen approximately 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit; disconcertingly, most scientists agree that the point of no return is a rise 2 degrees Fahrenheit. Beyond these levels (approximated to be 450 ppm carbon dioxide), the planet will experience unprecedented changes in the global climate and a significant increase in the severity of natural disasters (Dresner, 2008). Currently, the average atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is approximately 392.2 ppm (NOAA, 2011) and it is increasing at a rate of 1.92 ppm per year. At this rate, the global atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide will reach 450 ppm by 2042, disregarding the contribution of growing industrialized nations such as China and India [italics mine]. … [S]ome estimate that the loss of species is currently happening at 1000 times the natural rate of extinction (Esterman, 2010). Species simply do not have enough time to adapt to altered habitats or migrate to better suited ecosystems. This leaves them stranded, and many of them soon become endangered. … [And in case you miss the relevance of that] As a population, humans depend on a great deal of species for survival.
…[A]s the IEA found, we’re about five years away from building enough carbon-spewing infrastructure to lock us in and make it extremely difficult — maybe impossible — to avoid 450 ppm. The point of no return comes around 2017.