The following visualization using small multiples is a creation by Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist with NCAS (National Centre for Atmospheric Science). The visual consists of small temperature maps showing temperature changes from 1850 to 2016, using the 1961-1990 period as the baseline. The overall global warming trend is clear as a bell. Planet earth is inching closer and closer to critical levels of warming. We are on the edge of 1.5˚C.
On The Edge of 1.5˚C
Credit: color scale ranges from blue (-2.5 degrees C) to red (+2.5 degrees C). Ed Hawkins.
Climatologists have been expecting an abrupt rise in global temperatures for some time now. Joe Romm, writing for ThinkProgress, claims that the long-awaited jump in global warming is here. The annual State of the Climate Report confirms that 2015 surpassed 2014 as the hottest year on record. Carbon dioxide, sea levels and temperatures all hit new milestones according to the report.
The first eight months of 2016 have been the warmest ever of any other 8-month period. June was the fourteenth consecutive month to shatter heat records. July beat June, and August beat July. NASA now predicts with 99 percent certainty that 2016 will easily become the hottest year on record. This will be the earth’s third hottest year in a row.
Rate of Warming Speeds Up
The planet is baking and the rate of temperature change is accelerating. Our climate is starting to change faster than models predicted years ago. We are entering a period of rapid changing climate which will surpass historical levels of warming according to studies conducted at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (US Department of Energy).
August was the warmest month ever recorded continuing a streak of 11 consecutive months of new monthly high-temperature marks.
An earlier analysis by Climate Central shows that we are on the edge of the 1.5°C inspirational threshold set in Paris last December. The average global temperature change for the January to March 2016 period was 1.48°C, almost reaching that ambitious target agreed to by the signatories of the Paris Agreement. With this agreement, nations signed on to a goal of keeping warming below 2 degrees Celsius, while pursuing actions to stay under 1.5 degrees now becoming an impossible feat.
On the surface there appears to be little difference between the two targets. But studies show that the likelihood of extreme weather increases dramatically even with just a half-degree of warming. Hot weather events have already increased fivefold and will double at 1.5°C and then double again at 2°C.
Slipping Past 1.5°C
As we find ourselves on the edge of 1.5°C, there is much to be concerned about. And as warming slips past 1.5°C, we will spiral down the rabbit hole of 2°C and more of warming. Two degrees “contains significant risks for societies everywhere,” says Johan Rockstrom (Stockholm Resilience Centre).
So let’s not let that happen!
Rolly Montpellier is the Founder and Managing Editor of BoomerWarrior.Org. He’s a Climate Activist and a blogger. He’s a member of 350.Org (Ottawa), Climate Reality Canada and Citizens’ Climate Lobby (Ottawa). Rolly has been published widely in both print and online publications. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Pinterest.
There needs to be a clear understanding of what individuals can and can’t do. At this point, at this time, I believe there needs to be shouts of outrage to political leaders. They are the ones who can put in place the necessary regulations to drastically limit climate assaults. There needs to be an understanding by politicians that their immediate political future is a function of what regulations they promote, put in place, and force compliance of.
It is criminal that we are subsidising fossil fuels. It is criminal that we are still allowing expansions of existing ecocides like the tar sands. It is criminal that we are still allowing digging and drilling. It is an abdication of their duty to humanity that we are not vigorously supporting renewable energy.
The approval of fossil fuel infrastructure projects is defacto climate denial. Approving projects that will increase emissions at a time when we are trying to reach the Paris targets for the reduction of emissions is absolute insanity – continuing to do the same things with the expectation that we will get different results.
Thanks for the comments Ron
For the last few years I have been asking why our politicians and other leaders have shown themselves as willing to risk our successors being left with climate and other threats to the commons that may exceed man’s capability to resolve. I propose WASG (World Auditors of Sustainable Growth) to report annually to everyone so as to force inadequate leaders into action.
Something like WASG is going to be a necessity and may help in many other ways. My message is somewhere between Doomsday and Utopia. You can read it on http://www.wasg.co.uk
We have to do more to price out carbon pollution and develop new ways to extract carbon already emitted and bury it. Most suggestions are so expensive in money or land use as to be hardly practicable. We have barely started to develop cyanobacteria to restore deserts, but this is the sort of thing science is becoming good at and could be our saviour.
WASG would also help Western powers build bridges with Russia and China. (It would equally help China and Russia build bridges with Western powers). Dealing adequately with climate can unify humanity.
Welcome to BoomerWarrior Ian and thank you for your response.
I like the concept you’re proposing – an annual report to an international body on national progress in the fight against climate change.
The Paris Agreement has a mechanism whereby nations will meet every 5 years to compare notes plus there is also an annual COP climate meeting – COP22 is in Marrakesh, Morocco next week. So there is an opportunity for world leaders to work together. But your proposal has more teeth and that’s exactly what is needed.
I’m pleased to read your supportive reply. I recently wrote an open letter to the PM (published Western Morning News 15 Sept) quoting Ronald Reagan. He said our obsessions with antagonisms of the moment obscured the common bonds between all humanity.. These obsessions, he said, would quickly vanish in face of an alien threat. Climate change is not an alien threat, but I think it can puy unifying pressure on nations in the same way.
I am currently tryng to get Channel 4 to publicise the worsening problem. Jon Snow gave me some support last year and I wrote to him again last week. Bad timing on my part as he is clearly in the Usa until after the election. A note ftrom you to him at ITN News, 200 Gray’sInn Road, London WC1X 8XZ giving your sppurt to the idea of WASG would be a great help.
Ian – did you receive a reply from the PM’s office on your letter?
I’ll find ITN news online and provide a comment. Keep up the good work.
I sent a copy of my letter to the PM personally and got only a brush-off reply from her correspondence sec. I had a long reply from the dept for climate change.
Copy of my published letter Follows:-
Open Letter to the Prime Minister
I write in an open letter because I believe the important matters I raise are best dealt with in the open. I have four particular points to make.
President Ronald Reagan, on several occasions, including in a speech to the UN General Assembly, said “In our obsessions with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all the members of humanity. Perhaps we need some outside, universal threat to make us recognise this common bond. I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world”.
Although it comes from within rather than as an alien hazard, climate change and other global threats to the commons exert such a unifying pressure: but the evidence is that your predecessors and the other permanent members of the UN Security Council have been, and remain, willing to risk future generations being saddled with climate problems exceeding man’s capability to resolve. Without doubt, some of the foreseeable difficulties can much more easily be dealt with now (by reducing emissions, including of the super pollutants, which must otherwise be compensated for later by the costly process of sucking CO2 from the air and burying it).
These countries need to take the lead and will not do so until you all realise that climate change is more important (and more urgent) than all your other problems and ‘antagonisms of the moment’.
It follows that you personally, and this applies equally to the leaders of France, China, Russia and the USA, must always have in mind in all your dealings the imperative need to build bridges with each other. This is the first particular point.
However, taking account of a potential adversary’s point of view when you actually think he or she is acting selfishly, inappropriately (or perhaps is just trying it on), is obviously very difficult. So you (all) will need a catalyst, a judicial coordinator to help.
WASG (World Auditors of Sustainable Growth) is that catalyst. This is the second point. WASG’s rolling annual Audit would report annually to the UN and the world. Any nation whose present actions and outlook threatened the future would become open to WASG criticism now. Mr Ban Ki-moon will not act without a request from yourself and other national leaders. Please get your closest advisors to study my reports at wasg.co.uk .
WASG, which I should perhaps emphasise is not a Western but a global entity, will not only guide the way to effective action on the Climate problems, but will solve, or at least help with most of your other problems which you understandably but wrongly find more urgent. As President Reagan stated, our differences could quickly vanish. If this all seems utopian, consider how much further we have to go in eliminating differences to get proper climate and capitalist action started: and once started, cooperation will continue as a result. This is my third point.
We are looking for better governance, which is even more important in the developed world than in the developing. When we stop money buying power we will achieve a better balance (over years and decades) between rich and poor, within and between nations.
Action (more often, lack of action) on these matters has come from a status of denial, among both leaders and led, and among politicians, companies, academia and the media. Those who should have known better have referred to the Brexit decision on which we have now voted as the most important for generations past and to come: but Brexit is hardly in the same league as climate change which is a threat to our very civilization and/or could cause the sixth extinction of species. We now desperately need WASG, which you could help set up quite easily: but you could do without being diverted to Brexit as well.
It would be good if you felt Brexit could properly be put off for several years and that this would accord with our democratic tradition of the executive acting through Parliament. This is my fourth point.
Sunday 8th August
I will be away for the next 10 days
Ian, you make some very good arguments for WASG, and I have been to your website to look at your ideas.
In reality, there are many groups who have readied plans for a different way to run world economies. Most are very comprehensive, articulate, and thorough, down to intricate implementation details.
I keep asking myself why none of these ideas are taken up in any form or fashion, or at least a competent committee of experts is assigned by governments to evaluate the ideas?
The answer to that has to come in the recent shenanigans of the US election. The run up to the surprising outcome was a shameful, debased, primitive, oneupmanship that relied on nastiness, lies, sarcasms, and general mud-slinging that was neither intelligent or indicative of leadership qualities that one would expect of government. In reality, the world is run by egotistical maniacs bent on personal power.
We do not see rational ideas followed because our leaders actually don’t want to be nice to each other. World cooperation will remain a pipe dream while Nationalism is on the rise. This is an effort by each nation to enact its own resource protections from outside nations, except through lucrative trade deals and bilateral back scratching. It is not cooperation for the common good of everyone, and therefore ideas like WASG are considered threats to the status quo systems. In fact any attempt at common goals and shared resources (The European Union for instance), has generally resulted in onerous rules, elitism and general corruption by many members.
In reality Ian, mankind is going to see a civilisation collapse due to its own pigheaded ignorance. We have not learned any lessons at all from our constant warring stance on taking what we want. The US election is a reminder that aggression rules our world and takes no prisoners. We will not make the utopian leap of your vision…not as a majority. The best you can hope for, is to have the plan ready for the remaining few humans to pick up the pieces after the wars are done.