Just been to an excellent and packed out talk on abrupt climate change at NIWA. Excellent for the chap’s use of good, solid evidence, and for handy metaphors, i.e. with a three metre sea level rise, the lecture room we were in would be underwater.
And the bad news is that its all happened before, Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets melting, the Gulfstream shutting down. By emitting carbon dioxide we’re pushing the climate towards the edge of the cliff where that all happens again. Not in the ‘ice age in two weeks’ version from “The Day After Tomorrow”, but in the ’10 C temperature change in a decade’ kind of thing.
The worse news is that one-off events like those are inherently hard to predict, so assessing the risk is a bugger, therefore getting anyone to do anything about it is hard.
So cue drought, floods, starvation and the loss of many large cities.
But then again, I grew up in the Cold War, expecting to be told at any moment that I had 20 minutes left to live. I grew up hoping that I’d be one of the quarter of the European population who got taken out in the first strike, not one of the quarter who died of radiation poisoning over the next four weeks, or or the quarter that starved to death that winter, or one of the few poor sods that actually survived and had to deal with pile of smoking rubble that used to be civilisation.
So for a end-of-the-world excuse to wake up screaming in the middle of the night, climate change, even the abrupt version, is rather akin to being buried in sand, one grain at a time. Whereas global nukhulear war is rather more rapid and definite. And frankly, I consider that progress.
Yay for progress!