Heavy-aired hot this late-afternoon Monday here in California’s Central Valley — 100 degrees outside right now, probably the high for the day, and another episode in our latest heat wave this year. Cooler weather forecast for this coming weekend, so we’ll just wait as we whine about insufferable conditions.
Weather be changing in a hurry.
Climate change is indeed a crisis as our environment appears headed to an obvious breakpoint:
The US has seen five 1-in-1,000-year rain events in the last 27 days.
St Louis on July 25-26, Eastern Kentucky on July 28, Southern Illinois on August 2, Death Valley on August 5, and now Dallas-Fort Worth on August 21-22. pic.twitter.com/JDh0GIss4O
— Colin McCarthy (@US_Stormwatch) August 22, 2022
Flood, how about trees? The discovery in the Arctic tundra — warming four times faster than the rest of the earth — the appearance of white spruce trees, entirely out of their territory. Due to the heating, the trees are part of the Arctic greening, a disastrous ‘feedback loop‘ kind of action (warming makes warming worse), where trees are spreading across what used to be a near-all-white landscape.
A weirdness noted at Wired this morning:
Arctic greening is a blaring warning light on the climate damage dashboard, both for the region and the world at large. The proliferation of shrubs is one thing—they’re small and grow relatively quickly—but long-lived white spruce are another thing entirely.
“When you see trees growing, you know that the climate has really shifted,” says Dial. “It’s not like five years of weather, or 10 years of weather. It’s 30 years of climate that’s established new trees in new places.”
Writing this month in the journal Nature, Dial and his colleagues put hard numbers on what they discovered in the Alaskan tundra: White spruce, both as individuals and as a population, are growing exponentially there. The population is now moving north at a rate of 2.5 miles per decade, faster than any other conifer treeline that scientists have measured, in what should be one of the most inhospitable places on the planet for a tree.
Trees in the freezer are just a single point to make on how drastic, and quickly, our only planet is heating. In the surge of research, our future does not look good — shitstorms galore! Yet if we do something near-about immediately, we can still change the change from unimaginable to imaginable. However, there’s absolutely no reason to give up. As Yogi Berra was want to say, “It’s not over until it’s over.”
Although there’s a concern about doomism:
.@MichaelEMann: "Climate doomism can be paralyzing….That makes it a potentially useful tool for polluting interests looking to forestall or delay action." https://t.co/ytUaNV1Kmn #ClimateCrisis #ClimateEmergency
— Francisco Taveira (@jftaveira1993) August 22, 2022
If there’s an accepted ‘doomscrolling‘ on the InterWebs, then so a certain bit of ‘doomism‘ can be expected regarding getting a handle on climate change — but giving up doesn’t work for climate change action.
From Canadian news service Rabble today and a look at Nihilism and global warming:
The news about our warming planet isn’t reassuring—and it hasn’t been for a while.
Climate change is increasing the frequency and size of forest fires across Canada and the United States. Polar ice caps are melting at an astonishing rate, as are the world’s glaciers. Declining ice levels mean less heat is reflected away from the earth’s surface, leading to more extreme heat waves and destabilizing fresh-water supply here in Canada. Just this year, India experienced sustained periods of extreme temperatures so hot they caused birds to fall from the sky; while a recent heat model projected that within 30 years, more than a quarter of the United States could see felt temperatures exceed 50 degrees.
And without urgent action by the global community, the situation is only going to get worse. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change bluntly put it in its February 2022 report: “To avoid mounting loss of life, biodiversity and infrastructure, ambitious, accelerated action is required to adapt to climate change, at the same time as making rapid, deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.”
In other words, there’s still hope that humanity can stave off the worst—but we need to take action.
But for a growing number of people, the news is so bleak that there’s simply nothing to be done. For these climate nihilists, disaster has become inevitable: the world has already passed a tipping point and nothing more can be done to avert the most extreme warming scenarios, or the resulting end of civilization and life on this planet as we know it. All that’s left now is to eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.
Doomism assumes that climate change is all-or-nothing. Either we limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels (for example), or we might as well not limit global warming at all for all the good it will do.
The science says something quite different, namely, that when it comes to climate change small differences matter tremendously. As retired professor SueEllen Campbell recently wrote for Yale Climate Connections, “Every year we delay, dropping emissions will make the job harder, but this job will never suddenly become impossible.”
The difference between 1.5 degrees of warming and 1.6 degrees is one that we will pay for in lost lives and livelihoods, and, yes, some irreversible changes to our environment. And we shouldn’t make light of these costs. But nor should we exaggerate them by turning them into the literal end of the world.
The latter is exactly what climate doomism does, and the result is climate apathy.
The biggest obstruction is political. World wide. In the US Republicans think climate change is a hoax, and if they sweep the midterms, we’re fucked because they’ll kill the Inflation Reduction Act, and any any other concerned take on curbing emissions.
Doomism is reality, but not giving up is humane. Hope always springs eternal, or so they say.
You got to beat the nihilists — need not be afraid:
Even in the heat, once again here we are…
(Illustration out front: Pablo Picasso’s ‘Agonizing Horse,’ found here)