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by Bru Pearce

 

In my previous chapters of  Explaining the Danger, I laid out the mechanisms behind climate change that are driven by increases in green house gasses. In this post I will try to set out what it all means to us now.

The first thing to take on board is the scale of the changes that have arrived and are occurring now. In the past 42 years since 1970 the world’s population has doubled from 3.5 billion to 7 billion people and energy usage has also more than doubled. The earth cannot grow and our proportional impact, therefore, gets ever greater.

 

By 2040 we will have doubled the amount of Carbon in the atmosphere.  In the past 5 years the warming we have caused has melted so much ice and snow that we have now lost half of the reflective effect of the arctic sea and northern hemisphere snow cover. This allows far more heat to be absorbed and has fundamentally changed the charter of global weather patterns. We have exchanged an ice covered sea (reflective) for open ocean that absorbs heat and forms waves, which mechanically break up the remaining ice. But the biggest effect of a warmed arctic that we are seeing is the slowed and meandering jet stream which is bringing the northern hemisphere large doses of extreme weather. It’s as if we have not just broken the fridge but we have taken the door off its hinges. Cold air is rushing out and warm air is rushing in. This is not a new state of normal this is a state of change which will continue until a new equilibrium is reached or until we get the door closed again. Within another five years we will have halved the reflectivity again. So if you thought the last 5 years have been pretty extreme, you now need to expect the next five years to be doubly extreme again.

Remember the pressure is coming from all sides and the ice loss is not the only tipping point, so my predictions may be conservative.

 

It’s not just food production on land; the seas are also in a downward spiral. In many places as drought becomes more extreme aquifers are becoming exhausted. Glaciers are retreating and not replenishing causing floods as they melt faster and then when the ice is gone down stream there will be extreme droughts.


Within five years huge swathes of humanity will be trying to migrate away from the worst affected areas, climate refugees will become a major issue. As food prices rise and the reserves in the west run out we are going to see famine on an entirely unprecedented scale.

Sooner or later (and I very much fear later) we will be forced to take action.

 

Will two billion people starving in 5 years time will be enough to make us react?

 

Can we hold the western economies together for that long?

 

What’s going to happen to your pension fund and is there any point of paying into it if we are not taking action now to stabilise our climate?

 

Time is very short and every day we delay action the amount of effort that will be required to recover the system increases several fold. But don’t despair, we have a choice, each and every one of us either accepts the ruination of the planet and the collapse of civilisation within the next 10 to 20 years or we demand change and take action now. How difficult is that?

To find out how, read “the plan” and then follow our blogs on the detail of each section.