Why Climate Change News?
Why am I selecting climate change news when humanity’s environmental impact on the planet is so multi-faceted and complex? Read on!
Biodiversity loss is reaching catastrophic proportions with roughly half of all individual animals eradicated since 1970.
We are cutting down an area of forest equivalent to the size of Italy each year.
Nitrate run-off from farming fertilizers is facilitating marine algal blooms that deplete oxygen, leaving vast, coastal dead-zones in their wake.
At least a quarter of the Co2 released by human activities like deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels has been absorbed by the oceans, causing them to become 30% more acidic over the past two centuries – faster than any known change in ocean chemistry in the last 50 million years and a rate way in excess of marine life’s adaptation capacities.
The biosphere is so suffused with plastic that microplastic particles can be found strewn all through the food-chain and detected in high concentrations even in polar melt-ponds.
Why focus on climate change news?
So why then focus on a single issue like climate change? Because, honestly, I find it riveting both intellectually and aesthetically – the theatre of “nature in fury” can be spellbinding. From an objective standpoint, this is a fascinating time to be alive.
Some still believe that adding 29 surplus gigatons of carbon annually to the planet’s natural carbon cycle (to say nothing of methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, etc.) will have no significant impact on the climate system and that climate change is, therefore, a Chinese hoax or a left-wing conspiracy. And some promulgate these views because they are Heartland Institute shills or similar. This is their prerogative.
Some think that debating attribution in relation to individual weather events is a useful or enjoyable way of passing the time. My personal view is that we have altered the chemical composition of the atmosphere and oceans such that the entire context within which weather occurs has been altered and attribution studies are therefore largely moot.
It hardly matters, as our rapidly changing climate is but one facet of our broader ecological predicament, which is why the narrow focus on localised reductions of carbon-emissions espoused in the now fashionable Green New Deals is disingenuous. Green Industrial Revolution is an oxymoron. You cannot mine, smelt, manufacture and spend your way to a healthier biosphere.
And there’s not much we can do, at least on the collective level. The system has self-organised in such a way that the very fuels which are the sine qua non for modern industrial civilization and for keeping billions of us humans fed, clothed, (where applicable) warm, employed and generally not dead, are rendering the biosphere ever less hospitable to us. In other words, industrial civilisation is inherently self-terminating and our predicament all-encompassing. It is a terrible irony.
Oil, coal, and gas still supply approximately 85% of our direct energy needs and are intrinsic in the production of the remaining 15%. You cannot make, transport or maintain renewable energy devices without fossil fuels and it is fantasy to imagine that the dilute, intermittent energy they provide can in any way replace fossil fuels at scale without crashing the entire system. This is not necessarily an endorsement of environmental non-action though. Meaningful battles can still be fought. A company is dumping untreated sewage in a river? By all means take them on!
And if you are torturing yourself with the notion that humanity has been foolish and remiss in its choices, then take heart – as tribal creatures operating in a competitive system, it seems unlikely way we were ever going to forego the advantages (stuff, choice, novelty, status, comfort, warmth, convenience, protection, transportation, etc.) afforded us by burning fossil fuels. It’s arguably been a done deal since before anyone alive now was born.
What we are likely to see moving forwards:
An overall, accelerating warming trend, resulting in many more meteorological records being broken for heat than cold
Disproportionately rapid warming in the Arctic eroding the temperature-gradient between the pole and the rest of the northern hemisphere, resulting in weak, fractured and often stuck jet streams thence stuck weather patterns and storms
The penetration of warm air into the Arctic via these weaker jet streams and the corollary, i.e. Arctic air spilling out to the south, causing some extreme cold events
Accelerating ice-loss in the Arctic
Increasing emissions of methane from soils, shallow seas and even from beneath rock formations in permafrost regions of the Arctic
An accelerating increase in severe precipitation events and the potency of storms, due to the overall warming, both marine and atmospheric
Accelerated melting of glaciers
A continued slowdown of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation; the “Atlantification” of the Arctic
More persistent droughts in many parts of the world (major cities like Sao Paolo, Chennai and Cape Town have been dangerously close to running entirely out of water. Sooner or later a city, probably in the southern hemisphere, will run dry); insane fires
Accelerating Antarctic sea-ice loss and ice-sheet destabilisation via sub-marine warming and the channelling of warm air from lower latitudes into the sea-ice zone
Accelerating rise of sea-levels (I use the plural because sea-level is not uniform around the planet)
All these and much, much more!
Speaking meteorologically, things are going to get weird; so, pull up your comfiest chair and pour out a glass of your finest brandy – we have ringside seats for a clusterfuck of unprecedented proportions and we’ll be following it here with climate change news updates at climateandeconomy.com.