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Climate change impossible to deny

climate change

Is it possible that even if the earth was reduced to a burnt out husk and the last humans were sheltering in the deepest caves they could find there would still be a climate change denier up the back saying "it wasn't us, it's just the natural order of things"?

That seems likely given the reaction by the usual suspects to last week's findings the 2010s were the hottest decade on record.

While not necessarily interesting reading in themselves, the comment threads on some of the news reports of the joint NASA and NOAA finding are notable in that they appear to plumb new depths of human stupidity, self-delusion and wishful thinking.

The Bureau of Meteorology had confirmed 2019 was the hottest year ever in Australia just the week before with temperatures 1.52 degrees above the long-term average.

2020 is also on track to be right up there with early indications it will be one of the five hottest years ever in this country.

While 2016 remains the hottest year ever recorded across the globe, 2019 is now in second place.

Data collated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows warming has accelerated over the past 40 years. Annual global average surface temperatures are increasing at about .18 degrees a decade.

Given the fires in Australia and the Amazon, increased hurricane activity in the Bahamas, reductions in ice cover in the Bering and Chukchi seas, melting permafrost in Alaska and Siberia, heatwaves in Europe and cyclones in Mozambique it is obvious the planet is undergoing major changes.

Our children, and our children's children, will live in a world very different, and significantly less hospitable, to the one we know.

" Stopping emissions from increasing is one thing; working out how to put the genie back into the bottle - if that is even possible - is going to be another."

"But", the deniers will cry, "how can we be sure it is humans who are causing this?"

Join the dots. Despite the best efforts of the Kyoto and the Paris agreements global greenhouse emissions hit a record high in 2019. According to the Washington Post "the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now sits at the highest level in human history - a level probably not seen on the planet for three million years".

The multi-trillion dollar question is whether or not this is reversible. Have we reached a tipping point of no return or is it still possible to turn this around before Parramatta and Bankstown become beachside suburbs?

Any honest answer to this question has to be along the lines of "maybe, maybe not". That is because the best advice available suggests the best time to have done something about this will always be "yesterday".

The longer we hold off, the greater the changes we are going to have to make to achieve carbon dioxide targets that would have been relatively easy to reach a decade or two decades ago.

We also need to take into account the fact significant warming has already occurred. Whole countries, including Switzerland and Kazakhstan according to some reports, have already warmed beyond the two degrees celsius the IPCC considers manageable.

Stopping emissions from increasing is one thing; working out how to put the genie back into the bottle - if that is even possible - is going to be another.

One of the few bright spots this week was Science Minister, Karen Andrews's, call for the deniers to get over themselves.

"Every second we spend discussing whether or not climate change is real is a second that we don't spend talking about, putting into place, strategies to mitigate the effects," she said.

That is a welcome change of pace for this government. We hope her more intransigent colleagues are listening.

 

This article was originally published on canberratimes.com

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