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We have failed.

There is no need to spend more than a very few words on this post. For the first time in recorded history, probably the first time since our species’ primitive ancestors crawled out of the sea, we have reached the point of two degrees above normal. Two degrees above pre-industrial levels.

Think about that for a moment. That’s the figure that the world’s scientists and politicians have agreed marks the advent of dangerous climate change. It’s the figure that has been the de-facto goal of global efforts to avoid, ever since the Kyoto agreement in 1997 and agreed and reinforced innumerable times since. Two degrees is the figure the world has come to view as the mark of success or failure of our efforts to halt climate change. It’s half a degree above the goal agreed at the recent Paris accords.

Two degrees is probably enough to trigger tipping points, starting a chain of unstoppable changes that will irrevocably, radically and rapidly change the planet we live on to something unrecognisable.

We have just reached two degrees of warming, and we show no signs of even making progress towards reversing the trend. The two degrees figure incorporates the effects of a powerful El Nino effect in record heat for February, the hottest month ever recorded. It is possible that heat readings for March may be less terrifyingly extreme than February. Perhaps we’re not yet permanently two degrees above normal. Regardless, the trend is undeniable.

Climate change continues. Climate change is accelerating. Mankind is making no real effort to stop it. We will not survive this. If this milestone does not spur governments to action, likely nothing ever will.

It doesn’t get any more stark than that. We have failed, we are failing, we will fail.


25 comments

  1. Michael

    Hooray for those who voted the f*ckwits in charge

    What’s the Worse Thing That Can Happen
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zORv8wwiadQ
    for everyone over the age of 5

    Reap what you sow!

  2. mark delmege

    you know if we did every thing right 5 years ago it would get worse anyway…thats just how it is.

  3. Ross Cornwill

    Did you even bother to read the article or see the video Mark.

  4. ozfenric

    Thanks, Michael, for that video. The risk/reward grid is not an entirely new concept, and the presenter made a couple of basic mistakes, but the basic argument stands that the risk of not taking of climate change action is too grave to countenance. He says “humans will survive” in his video, but this is not in any way guaranteed. See https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151201094120.htm. We are talking about no less than the future of life on Earth.

  5. ozfenric

    Mark Delmege, are you somehow *still* clinging to the claim that climate change is natural, and man has not been the primary driver? New research confirms what we already knew: the world was in a cooling phase (had been cooling for about 6,000 years) until the 20th century. Then humans started burning coal, and the trend reversed course: the world started warming. In 100 years, we have changed the climate more than nature could do in ten thousand. http://www.twincities.com/2013/03/06/recent-heat-spike-unlike-anything-in-11000-years.

    If instead you’re claiming that five years ago was too late for us to act, you are right: we needed to be changing our behaviour much earlier to prevent any climate change. But if we had chosen to really act following Kyoto, or at any time in the twenty years that followed, we might have met our own stated goals of stopping global warming short of the two degrees barrier.

    That argument still holds. If we radically change our behaviour now, we can start making a change in the global warming trend and maybe, just maybe, salvage a world that’s barely livable for our grandchildren. It won’t help anyone for us to sit back five years from now and say “if we did everything right five years ago it would still have been bad…”

  6. Julian

    Thanks for the reminder that our ecosystem is rapidly changing due to human impact. And indeed it may be irrecoverable and lead to our extinction. My concern with people trying to reverse or slow the trend, is the paradigm. We are still trying to operate in an economic paradigm rather than an ecocentric bioregional paradigm. I feel both are mutually exclusive. Until we drop the economic paradigm I believe we are doomed. A social revolution is probably required.

  7. Kevin Brewer

    Ozfenric, I don’t think you are right in saying the world was on a cooling phase for 6000 years. My understanding is that the world began warming in the early to mid 18th century after the Maunder minimum of the Little Ice Age, and has continued to do so. The LIA kicked in during the 14th century. However, there has also been some anthropogenic forcing from fossil fuels, ozone depletion (continuing still), and land clearance, not to forget the influence of aircraft con trails on the upper troposphere.

  8. mark delmege

    Oz your second para gets it. But just to throw a spanner in – there was a fellow 20-30 years ago – since dead who argued that it could just as easily tip us into another rapid set ice age. For the record I first ran a greenhouse story circa 1989. I dont doubt we stuffed it though I’m not convinced that anyone really knows what will happen next

  9. Steve Laing

    Mark – the biggest problem we have is not the size of the increase, but the speed of it. Life simply cannot evolve fast enough. We are at the start of the sixth mass extinction, and we are highly unlikely to survive it, no matter how smart we think we are.

    We were warned. Our leaders chose to ignore it, and swathes of the population bought into that delusion.

    And we should have a fairly good idea what happens next. Look at Syria, and multiply it. It is going to look like a zombie movie. The only survivors are likely to be those able to live off the land, which is good news for those of our First Nations, but not the rest of us. Good luck.

  10. astra5

    ozfenric

    That data is frightening. But we ought not expect the deniers to take notice. They are hard wired to believe that global warming is natural; nothing will change them, not facts, not figures, not logic, not reason.

  11. mark delmege

    The ‘Cycles of Heaven’ are a wondrous thing. Like elliptical orbiting satellites with rotations varying from a few years out to hundreds of thousands they intereact with ever changing frequencies… nevertheless I find the best answer to those who want to deny how human activities can effect the planetary ecosystem is to remind them of Chlorocarbons and Fluorocarbons and the Ozone hole.

  12. Brad

    This is what’s to be expected given the rapid development the world has experienced. This article and others like it need to be targeted to a wider audience – the question is how to do that? Messages on hot air balloons over the MCG perhaps.

  13. Sen Nearly Ile

    Sadly, we on this page will survive, so will the planet (barring north korea/iran).
    ( of course, humanity may go by god’s hand as predicted.)
    For me the tragedy is empty has continued the rabbott’s mistrust of science by another emptying of the CSIRO and the deposit of a venture capital leader whose expertise is in building better dishwashing liquid well not quite but he is worry????.

    Perhaps mark might understand that the billion of he and we, got rich by killing for fossil fuel.
    (are we finished????)
    It is in our own interest that the other 6 billion get rich without killing for fossil fuel?
    Renewables will enrich the world and, until the rabbott, the CSIRO were world leaders which would have made us nearly as rich as if we had kept Telstra?

  14. Kyran

    It seems only appropriate that this government would respond to such a scenario by breaking the thermometer.
    Alan Alda is currently in Australia on a ‘Public Awareness of Science’ project. He did a radio interview (which I couldn’t find a link for) which referenced the CSIRO cuts and re prioritisation. There was, however, an article on the ABC website.
    (On planned cuts to the CSIRO)
    “Apparently the whole Southern Hemisphere is tracked by the instruments that are losing some of the overseers by this regulation, or this change in regulations. Again, it’s not my place to get involved in politics, especially in another country, but I think the scientists who are concerned about this, who devote themselves to studying climate change, are very concerned about this, that they’re losing an important tool for understanding climate change, for having a baseline for the rest of the world.
    I would hope that the people making this decision and those watching over them will think about what scientists who spend all their time studying this have to say about this. It seems to be an important issue as far as they’re concerned. I’m listening to them – I hope that others listen to them, too.”

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-04/alan-alda-on-art-and-science/7220536

    More than 95% of the world’s scientists agree about the problem and, if there is a solution, I would much rather hear from them about it. The only requirement of politicians is their silence. Thank you, Ozfrenic. Take care

  15. mark delmege

    Sen I wouldn’t worry too much about NK – its a charade of sorts.
    ‘After all these years of tightening the screws on North Korea you’d think they would have learnt by now that North Korea always responds by doubling down on its actions and rhetoric.

    Or is it the case of ‘creative tensions’ and as one US diplomat said ‘I we didn’t have a North Korea we would have to invent one’.

    Meaning NK is good for business, keeps allies in check while demanding more security and US made supplies.’

    And as young Kennedy said the other day War was declared on Syria when it refused the Qatar pipeline option -which as you must know is all about hurting Russia – any way they can.

  16. mark delmege

    Kyran appealing to the sense of an argument just because most people (even scientists) believe it true (at a point of time) is a logical fallacy. It is understandable but fortunately science moves on.

  17. ozfenric

    Not sure I agree with you on that last point, Mark. Believing something is true because lots of other people believe it is a flawed kind of logic (that basically assumes that the accumulated knowledge of the group is more reliable than your own personal experience). However, believing something because it has been scientifically and empirically demonstrated by thousands of professional scientists over the course of decades is in a different league. Yes, science moves, and occasionally paradigms are shaken: however, each new scientific position needs to still cope with the observations made previously. The facts don’t change even when our interpretation of them does.

    :Put another way, I believe the safest form of modelling is extrapolation. The globe has warmed, and is warming, so it’s appropriate to assume that unless something unforeseen happens and barring deliberate actions it will continue to warm. The difference between this and prophecies of “a new Ice Age” is that the latter proposes a major change in trend. Nothing wrong with a hypothesis for a change in behaviour, but the disproof of a hypothesis, either from a single fringe scientist or from the scientific community as a whole, does not invalidate the scientific method or the hypotheses that are currently supported by empirical results.

  18. Kyran

    With respect, Mr Delmege, I wasn’t appealing to the ‘sense of an argument’, I was appealing to the factual base of an argument. The facts are in. That our ‘leaders’ chose to run with the only disputation offered (from the likes of the IPA who produced a ‘scientific booklet’ without a single scientist’s input) drives me nuts.
    The point I was trying to make is that the politicians, globally, are more interested in advancing the short term welfare of their corporate donors than the long term welfare of their constituents or the environment (both of which are inextricably linked).
    If the Doomsday Clock calculations are anything to go by, we have, indeed, left it to the last minute to do anything. The impediment to action are the ‘leaders’. If we are in the ‘last minutes’, it’s time to shut the idiots in a room and let them talk themselves silly or sillier). It’s time to let the scientists take control of the conversation on remedial action, many of whom have excellent proposals worthy of action, and get on with it.
    If you goggle ‘Royal Society’ you will find many excellent proposals.
    There was an article on this site some time ago, pertaining to refugee’s (I think). The premise of the article was to get the politicians out of the way because the solutions to the problems were evident and the politicians were no more than an impediment.
    It has become acceptable for opportunistic, unintelligent, mealy mouthed gits to embark on a privileged lifestyle and call themselves ‘politicians’ or ‘leaders’ (on a global basis). It has become acceptable for them to promote the interests of a few over the needs of the majority. Whilst that sickens me, it seems to be the modern reality. There are, however, some things that cannot be ignored or left in the hands of these gits. Ozfrenic has detailed facts that require action. It really is past time these gits just get out of the way. Take care

  19. Mercurial

    mark delmege demonstrates that facts do not matter to him; it’s the vibe; he gets his beliefs from unusual sources, but they are still that: beliefs. He knocks those who base their beliefs on the opinions of others, but in the absence of a consideration of the facts, that is exactly what he is doing – only selectively.

    When he gets around to considering facts, we might listen to his arguments.

  20. mark delmege

    Not really Mercs. You should read what I said not what you think I said. I think we stuffed it – remember – what does that tell you? I’m just not convinced that the article or the video explain things adequately. Its complicated and I don’t know if anyone really understands the implications of what is happening. I didn’t argue that a snap ice age is upon us – not at all. And I’m not going to be convinced of an argument just because most people think one way. And I do try to live a life that reduces consumption and my footprint for a very good reason.

  21. Kyran

    Good point, Mercurial. There are many factors that require consideration in formulating a solution and overpopulation is a major one. I share your suspicion that many people may wear watches, but either never look at them or are unable to tell the time. The reference to the Doomsday Clock was that, prior to 2007, climate change wasn’t considered a factor. Now it is considered a major factor (with all its componentry). Take care

  22. Michael

    Would it help if we were to examine the personal vested interest baggage we carry – to wipe the mind of limiting beliefs, ego reinforcement, vanity protections, wanting to be right, wanting to blame, etc at the door of the discussion room (so to speak) and proceed to engage in exploring the subject starting with the distinctions made in the video.

    Here is a followup:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mF_anaVcCXg

  23. guest

    Keith,

    Dr John Christy has had some problems before with his use of data, eg refusing to provide data for some of his conclusions.

    You will also notice that Dr Karoly seems to treat climate change and the presence of El Nino as if they are separate events. .

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