Our capacity for denial seems almost limitless, perhaps most tragically attested to by our ongoing nonchalance about climate change. Despite increasingly severe weather events, melting arctic ice and rising sea levels, we insist on whistling past the graveyard. The time is growing very late.
Consider what Gwynne Dyer had to say recently:
We cannot count on the average global temperature rising steadily but slowly as we pump more and more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It may do that -- but there may also be a sudden jump in the average global temperature that lands you in a world of hurt. That may be happening now.To take solace by blaming recent event on El Niño is folly:
"We are moving into uncharted territory with frightening speed," said Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization, last November. He was referring to the fact that the warming is accelerating in an unprecedented way.
2014 was the hottest year ever, until 2015 beat it by a wide margin. 2016 may beat that record by an even wider margin. It was the hottest January ever and the average global temperature in February was a full fifth of a Celcius degree higher than January.
As for the frightening acceleration in the warming in the past three months, that has no precedent in any El Niño year, or indeed in any previous year. It could be some random short-term fluctuation in average global temperature, but coming on top of the record warming of 2014 and 2015 it feels a lot more like part of a trend.What was once thought to be many decades, if not centuries off, is now starting to materialize. Watch the following two videos to consider what may very well be in store for us, perhaps in the lifetime of some alive today, but almost certainly in that of our children and grandchildren:
Could this be non-linear change, an abrupt and irreversible change in the climate? Yes. And if it is, how far will it go before it stabilizes again at some higher average global temperature? Nobody knows.
Such scenarios are no longer in the realm of science fiction, but we continue to treat them as such, and it doesn't appear that anything will shake us and our 'leaders' from this state of denial. It therefore seems appropriate to end this post with Jimi Hendrix's version of Bob Dylan's All Along The Watchtower, a song that I have always interpreted as depicting impending doom: