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The Climate Crisis Will Be Faced by This Generation

Oil train fire in Boomer, West Virginia. Do we burn the oil or does it burn us?

By Thomas Neuburger

As a side note to another piece, I wrote this:

And the simple fact is, most of us won’t die sooner. The world will see warming of +1.5°C in the next five years, and we’ll cross +2°C by 2038. Surely the big screen will cover the fallout from that. Perhaps when the hopeless realize the crisis is now, that the calamity won’t delay till after they’re gone, an unstoppable critical mass can be mobilized.

The link in that quote is to a sobering look of the state of climate science today by the excellent climatologist David Spratt and his colleagues at Climate Reality Check.

Their conclusions, presented slideshow-like in the simplest of terms, are stunning. Here are just a few. See the PDF for the supporting data and the authors' recommendations (emphasis mine).

Warming is approaching 1.2°C and accelerating.
Reducing emissions alone will have no significant impact on warming over next two decades.
The total theoretical warming, if the current level of greenhouse gases were maintained, is ~2.4°C at equilibrium.
On current emissions path, 2°C warming [will occur] well before 2050.
• Under a high emissions scenario, 1.5°C may occur in 2025.
• Under a high emissions scenario, 2°C may be reached by 2038.
• Under a high emissions scenario, 3°C may be reached ~2060 and 5°C before 2100.

If you haven't figured it out yet, we're in the "high emissions scenario." As long as Exxon is making money, the fire will burn hot.

The world is on a 3–5°C warming path by 2100. A 4°C future is incompatible with an organised global community.
2°C may trigger a “Hothouse Earth” scenario of self-reinforcing warming [where] climate system feedbacks and their mutual interaction drive the Earth System climate to a point of no return, whereby further warming would become self-sustaining (that is, without further human perturbations).
3°C of warming would be catastrophic: Sea levels will eventually rise tens of metres [70 feet or more] for current level of greenhouse gases.
The last time Earth had the current level of greenhouse gases, there were forests in Antarctica.
Zero emissions at emergency speed: 2030 — not 2050 — is the crucial time frame.

This isn't just scary climate porn, though it's certainly scary. There are two solid takeaways here:

1. Even if we stopped emissions today, the climate will stabilize at about 2½°C warming.

2. This generation will see the crisis in its lifetime. Not the young, not the unborn, but adults today. If you're 40 now, you'll see 2°C warming in your 50s and while you're still working (assuming there are still jobs). If you're 30 today, you'll see 2°C warming while your children are still in school.

In other words, for anyone — looking at you, Joe Biden — thinking they can kick the can down the road and wash their emotional hands of what comes after, we're out of road down which it can be kicked. We've reached the wall at the end — kick as hard as we like, the can will bounce back.

Will this fact, when it hits home, create a critical mass of resistance to rule by Exxon? Everyone but the boomers will witness the answer.


(I've launched a Substack site to greet the post-Trump era. You can get more information here and here. If you decide to sign up — it's free — my thanks to you!)

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