The clip below was written by Bill McKibben who is probably, along with James Hanson, the father of the current effort to try to head off the worst effects of global warming. I have been reading McKibben since 1989 when he published his classic book The End of Nature. That book is not about the literal end of nature, but about the end of man’s conception of nation as a separate thing outside his own control. Over the years since then, I have read most of his books and his articles published in the New York Review of books and the New York Times and the New Yorker. As the years have gone by he has gotten grimmer and grimmer. The following except is probably his most grim. (That was true when I wrote this paragraph, but his latest article in The New York Times is even grimmer, if that is possible.)
From an article by Bill McKibben in The New York Review of Books
“The takeaway messages are simple enough: to keep warming under 1.5 degrees, global carbon dioxide emissions will have to fall by 45 percent by 2030, and reach net zero by 2050. We should do our best to meet this challenge, the report warns, because allowing the temperature to rise two degrees (much less than the 3.5 we’re currently on pace for) would cause far more damage than 1.5. At the lower number, for instance, we’d lose 70 to 90 percent of coral reefs. Half a degree higher and that loss rises to 99 percent. At two degrees, the report contends, there will be a “disproportionately rapid evacuation” of people from the tropics. As one of its authors told The New York Times, “in some parts of the world, national borders will become irrelevant. You can set up a wall to try to contain 10,000 and 20,000 and one million people, but not 10 million.””
“By far the most important change between this and the last big IPCC report, in 2014, is simply that four years have passed, meaning that the curve we’d need to follow to cut our emissions sufficiently has grown considerably steeper. Instead of the relatively gentle trajectory that would have been required if we had paid attention in 1995, the first time the IPCC warned us that global warming was real and dangerous, we’re at the point where even an all-out effort would probably be too slow. As the new report concedes, there is “no documented historical precedent” for change at the speed that the science requires.,”
“As the energy analyst David Roberts predicted recently on Twitter, “the increasing severity of climate impacts will not serve as impetus to international cooperation, but the opposite. It will empower nationalists, isolationists, & reactionaries.” Anyone wondering what he’s talking about need merely look at the Western reaction to the wave of Syrian refugees fleeing a civil war sparked in part by the worst drought ever measured in that region.”
“Given the grim science, it’s a fair question whether anything can be done to slow the planet’s rapid warming. (One Washington Post columnist went further, asking, “Why bother to bear children in a world wracked by climate change?”)”
“The stakes are so high, though, that we must still try to do what we can to change those odds. And it’s not an entirely impossible task.”
“We’re running out of options, and we’re running out of decades. Over and over we’ve gotten scientific wake-up calls, and over and over we’ve hit the snooze button. If we keep doing that, climate change will no longer be a problem, because calling something a problem implies there’s still a solution.”
The image at the top of this page was taken in Teton National Park in Wyoming.
The view is of Jenny Lake with Mt Teewinot
in the background.