Over the last few years I have written a fair amount about the problem of global warming.
But in the last few months I have felt barely able to bring my mind to bear on the subject – let alone write about it.
The reason is that the news is overwhelmingly terrible, both in our knowledge of the unfolding reality and our utter inability to focus on the hundreds of do-able things we might be doing.
So for example working backwards through my bookmarks:
- Oil industry knew of ‘serious’ climate concerns more than 45 years ago shows that this concern was well-appreciated early on and that oil-companies funding of climate sceptics was knowing and mendacious. See also the LA times story below.
- Paris Climate Treaty: ‘Significant step’ as US and China agree to sign is nominally good news, but in fact the climate treaty more or less guarantees that global warming will exceed 2 °C.
- Record-breaking temperatures ‘have robbed the Arctic of its winter’ and
- February breaks global temperature records by ‘shocking’ amount are presumably connected with the current El Nino but still reinforce how exceptional are current global conditions. It seems that March 2016 has been similarly exceptional.
- Big Oil braced for global warming while it fought regulations is an LA Times graphic from December 2015 that describes the Oil Companies more recent mendacity in detail.
- Greenland Ice Sheet lost mass twice as fast between 2003 and 2010 as it did during the ENTIRE twentieth century and
- Scientists: Greenland ice sheet is melting freakishly early are stories from the Daily Mail (!!!) from December 2015 and April 2016.
- Fossil Fuels subsidised by $10m a minute says IMF describes the extent to which changes to cleaner technologies are being resisted.
I could report more stories, but in short, I am overwhelmed.
Now before you say “but its it’s not all doom and gloom” please let me elaborate.
- I know that the world – and even civilisation as we know it – will not end if the Earth warms by 1 °C. Or even 2 °C. Or probably even 3 °C.
- And I also know that ‘bad news’ is great news for the media that bring ‘news’ to my attention and so I experience a cognitive bias towards ‘bad news’ because I encounter it more frequently.
- And I also know that there is good news. For example, use of coal to generate electricity in the UK has fallen dramatically (See Gridwatch for data)
I understand all these things. But overall, I give us – by which I mean me, my generation and this government – a massive vote of disapproval.
IMHO this issue is completely solvable by actions available to our government right now. But they are choosing not to do them. And I just can’t bear to think about the entirely avoidable consequences.