A year of climate change news in 400 words

Over the past year or so I have been keeping abreast of the latest social, political, technological and scientific news on climate change.  I’ve not been sharing every last detail on my blog, so here is a whistle-stop tour of all you need to know.  To make my job a whole lot easier, Al Gore has just written an article in Rolling Stone magazine on the same subject.

So, here goes:

Solar power is getting much cheaper, and looks set to become cheaper than fossil fuels.  Utility companies are shrinking from the US to Europe as a result.  It’s small-scale solar owned by individuals and communities that’s leading the way.  India plans to provide power for 400 million people using the sun.  Wind energy is following fast.

Big business is fighting back, investing millions in lobbying to effect law that holds back the renewable revolution by increasing taxes, but are being largely defeated.

Meanwhile, carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere has passed 400 parts per million, the highest it’s for at least 800,000 years, where we started farming only about 10,000 years ago.  13 of the 14 hottest years on record have been since the year 2000.

This year looks likely to be the hottest yet, with an El Nino brewing.  People worldwide are starting to realise that there is a common cause behind the droughts of the US, floods and storms in the UK, Serbia, Philippines and New York, seas rising and already threatening the lower lying lands.

Ice is retreating at more than a glacial rate everywhere from Antarctica and Greenland to the Arctic.  The changes are already irreversible.

The US military have changed their mind about climate change being the most significant force in destabilising world peace because of it being a “multiplier”.  They now say “it’s going to be the direct cause of instability”.
The technology is available, and the political will needs to follow.  The wording for the Paris 2015 agreement on climate change is being drafted as I type.

In one of my first blog posts, I compared climate change to the forces of Germany building before the second world war.  I suggested that Churchill didn’t try to persuade us to build spitfires based on an economic argument.  It turns out that the comparison was more apt than I realised.  In November 1936, he said in parliament: “Owing to past neglect, in the face of the plainest warnings, we have entered upon a period of danger. . . . The era of procrastination, of half measures, of soothing and baffling expedience of delays is coming to its close. In its place, we are entering a period of consequences. . . . We cannot avoid this period; we are in it now.”

John Bell

Ordinary Bloke


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