Burnin’ Down The House

December 18, 2023

In a short space this early-evening Monday, let’s momentarily (if we can) escape from the American political/culturally highly-disenfranchised diarrhea of news and focus maybe on an even bigger issue that is coming at us fairly quickly — climate change.

Pretty much already known information there’s a 100 percent chance 2023 will be the hottest-ever:

NOAA reported that last month was the warmest November in the organization’s 174-year record, continuing the above-average warm streak of 2023.

The average global land and ocean surface temperature for November 2023 was 2.59 degrees Fahrenheit above average.

November’s temperatures marked the sixth consecutive record-warm month and the eighth consecutive month in which global ocean-surface temperatures were record high.

It was also the “47th-consecutive November and the 537th-consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th-century average,” NOAA reported.

According to a report Climate Central released in early November, the prior 12 months were the hottest ever recorded, and an estimated 7.8 billion people around the world experienced above-average warmth.

And so it goes:

And COP 28 was a horrid, phony and a near-no-nothing event. Peter Kalmus, a data scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as an associate project scientist at UCLA’s Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science & Engineering, in an op/ed at Newsweek this afternoon: ‘We need to start by agreeing that COP28, like other COPs, was a complete failure. Claiming that it was somehow not a failure, clinging to bits of false hope, generates a powerful illusion that business as usual can continue. We’ve been doing this for 30 years now. The possibility of keeping heating to under 1.5 degrees C has been squandered. If we cling to false hope that it’s working, we will keep doing it, year after year, making no progress. This is what the fossil fuel industry wants; this is how we lose a planet.

David Wallace-Wells agrees and notes the conference’s shitty final agreement in an op/ed at The New York Times last Saturday:

It only took 28 years. When Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber banged his gavel on the resolution text of COP28 in Dubai on Wednesday, it marked what has been widely called a historic achievement: the first time nearly every country on Earth agreed that oil and gas play a role in driving global warming, and the first time they nodded toward the need for a fossil fuel drawdown.

For a historic text, the language was quite mealy-mouthed, since the resolution only “calls on” nations to “contribute” to “transitioning away” from fossil fuels — and only in the energy sector. Harder-line climate advocates had been pushing for a language of “phase out,” which might have helped tug the world a little bit more quickly to a postcarbon future. Instead, what they got was much more like an endorsement of the status quo, reflecting the ongoing state of play rather than accelerating it, because such a transition is already well underway.

Concerning that near-about out-of-control climate change, a most thoughtful, truthful note comes from Jane Curtin in the Guardian today — Curtin pretty well hits the proverbial nail on the head:

I have three grandchildren. I think about the glaciers melting, about sea turtles going into the Gulf of Maine and becoming driftwood. I just can’t understand why we won’t stop it. Why people are saying we don’t have to eliminate fossil fuels in order to prevent climate change. That’s just crazy talk. That has got to stop. But there’s not much I can do about it now. It’s up to other people. I will speak out about it as much as I can but I don’t have that much sway.

Quote comes from a really nifty interview (and a feel-good piece) in which Curtin — whom I’ve loved/adored since the mid-1970s — and that most wonderous character actress Harriet Sansom Harris, discuss long careers and the state of TV/films nowadays, from AI to the “joy” of acting — great must read.

Meanwhile, are we going to burn down the house while still playing around inside?

Blazing temps, or not, yet once again here we are…

(Illustration out front: MC Escher’s woodcut, ‘Tower of Babel,’ and found here.)

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