Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to The Hill contributor Stuart Mackintosh, “The climate change problem is so large and so all-consuming we can fail to get our collective hands and minds around it.”.
Climate change is no longer a probability — it’s time to face reality
BY STUART MACKINTOSH, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR — 02/12/22 09:01 AM EST 2,389
THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY CONTRIBUTORS ARE THEIR OWN AND NOT THE VIEW OF THE HILL
The climate change problem is so large and so all-consuming we can fail to get our collective hands and minds around it. The timescale is so long we fail to plan properly. Too often we look backward for lessons when the probability of severe weather events such as fires in California, Siberia, Australia, or hurricanes and typhoons are increasing in severity and number rather than remaining the same year-to-year. We look at past averages for solace even though this gives us the wrong probability for severe climate-related events. Perhaps most worryingly of all, we fail almost completely to account for epoch-shifting tipping points.
The late economist Martin Weitzman calculated the was a non-zero probability that failure to address climate change would end our civilization. This dangerous outcome would be brought closer through interlinked tipping points such as the end of summer Arctic Ice, melting of the world’s Alpine glaciers, the slowing and halting of the Gulf Stream, the loss of the Greenland Ice Sheet, the dieback of the Amazon rainforest, or the collapse of the West Antarctic ‘Doomsday’ glacier. The tipping points are many and terrifying, and all are being pulled closer by our failures to understand the risks. I argue in “Climate Crisis Economics” we must factor in these horrific tipping points so we properly account for the risks before
Weitzman in “Climate Shock” also estimated the chance of the global temperature rising by a staggering 6 degrees Celsius at a whopping 10 percent. Yet because of our inability to understand probabilities and what economist Mark Carney calls the tragedy of our horizons too many of us underestimate the climate change dangers, to our peril. Yet if I put it this way — if you knew that there was a 10 percent chance of you or your children being killed walking down a street in your neighborhood you would act. You would demand action, more policing, better streetlights, more expenditures to ensure such an event did not occur; or you would move, refusing to countenance such risks to your family. What we all need to do is adjust our estimates of risks probability and keep doing so.
…Read more: https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/593870-climate-change-is-no-longer-a-probability-its-time-to-face-reality
The world is not going to heat up 6C in the next century, but even if it did, civilisation would endure.
The idea humans couldn’t adapt to warmer conditions is absurd. Cities would need better drainage systems if rainfall increased, you can almost walk down the street drains in my hometown. People would want better air conditioning in Summer. The asphalt on roads would need to be upgraded. But none of these problems are insurmountable.
Food supply would not even blip. Farmers would need to do is copy agricultural practices from warmer regions. Most food crops are tolerant of a very broad range of growing conditions. Potato varieties developed in Maine, USA are a major crop in subtropical Bundaberg, Queensland.
When the British colonised Australia, farmers were, within a few months, transported directly from a place with a 56F average high temperature to a place with a 73F average high temperature – like experiencing an instant 17F (9C) global warming. After a few false starts, like planting grain in fall (the people in charge didn’t know the seasons are flipped in the Southern Hemisphere), they did just fine, using crops and food animals they had mostly brought from Britain.
6C over 100 years would not be a problem.
What about superstorms wiping out crops? My response to that – the age of the dinosaurs, a far warmer world than today, supported an ecosystem with giant animals at the top of the chain. Does that sound like an ecosystem clinging to viability, or was it a vibrant tropical riot bursting with plant growth and productivity?