Guest essay by Eric Worrall
A climate scientist has shared his insight into the dystopian future which will occur unless we do as he says.
Don’t despair – climate change catastrophe can still be averted
The future looks fiery and dangerous, according to new reports. But political will and grassroots engagement can change this
As a research scientist in this field, I can give some nuance to the headlines. One common way of thinking about climate change is the lower the future carbon dioxide emissions, the less warming and the less havoc we will face as this century progresses. This is certainly true, but as the summer heatwave and the potential hothouse news remind us, the shifts in climate we will experience will not be smooth, gradual and linear changes. They may be fast, abrupt, and dangerous surprises may happen. However, an unstoppable globally enveloping cascade of catastrophe, while possible, is certainly not a probable outcome.
Yet, even without a hothouse we are on track to transform Earth this century. The world, after 30 years of warnings, has barely got to grips with reducing carbon dioxide emissions. They need to rapidly decline to zero, but after decades of increases, are, at best, flatlining, with investments in extracting new fossil fuels continuing, including last month’s scandalous announcement that fracking will be allowed in the UK. Temperatures have increased just 1C above preindustrial levels, and we are on course for another 2C or 3C on top of that. Could civilisation weather this level of warming?
It is then easy to see these intersecting crises dovetailing with calls from the new far-right populists for strong authoritarian leaders to solve these problems. Inward-looking nationalists could then move further away from the internationalism needed to ensure the continuation of stable global food supplies and to manage migration humanely. And without cooperative internationalism serious carbon dioxide mitigation will not happen, meaning the underling drivers of the problems will exacerbate, leading to a lock-in of a deteriorating, isolationist, fascist future.
Who but a climate scientist could so eloquently establish the link between permitting fracking in the UK, and the global downfall of Democracy?