We are the generation that is likely to witness the destruction of our Earth.
by Joëlle Gergis
Dr. Joëlle Gergis is an award-winning climate scientist and writer based at the Australian National University. She is a lead author of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment report, and an expert advisor to the Climate Council.
This is what the people who work on the reports think, you've seen the carefully diluted results that get published. When I say that the reports understate the problem I'm not being critical of the scientists involved, but the process that precludes them from stating the truth as they see it.
...The relentless heat and drought experienced during our nation’s hottest and driest year on record saw the last of our native forests go up in smoke. ... During Australia’s Black Summer, more than 3 billion animals were incinerated or displaced, our beloved bushland burnt to the ground. ... Recovering the diversity and complexity of Australia’s unique ecosystems now lies beyond the scale of human lifetimes. What we witnessed was inter-generational damage: a fundamental transformation of our country. Then, just as the last of the bushfires went out, recording-breaking ocean temperatures triggered the third mass bleaching event recorded on the Great Barrier Reef since 2016. This time, the southern reef – spared during the 2016 and 2017 events – finally succumbed to extreme heat. The largest living organism on the planet is dying.
As one of the dozen or so Australian lead authors involved in consolidating the physical science basis for the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment report, I’ve gained terrifying insight into the true state of the climate crisis and what lies ahead. There is so much heat already baked into the climate system that a certain level of destruction is now inevitable. What concerns me is that we may have already pushed the planetary system past the point of no return. That we’ve unleashed a cascade of irreversible changes that have built such momentum that we can only watch as it unfolds.
The truth is, everything in life has its breaking point. My fear is that the planet’s equilibrium has been lost; we are now watching on as the dominoes begin to cascade.
With just 1.1C of warming, Australia has already experienced unimaginable levels of destruction of its marine and land ecosystems in the space of a single summer. More than 20% of our country’s forests burnt in a single bushfire season. Virtually the entire range of the Great Barrier Reef cooked by one mass bleaching event. But what really worries me is what our Black Summer signals about the conditions that are yet to come. As things stand, the latest research shows that Australia could warm up to 7C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century.
The revised warming projections for Australia will render large parts of our country uninhabitable
She goes on, I don't want to excessively quote the article.
6C in 80 years will kill practically everything. It's not just the absolute temperature, it's the rate of change. 7C above "pre-industrial" (I'm assuming here she is referring to the 1880s average) takes us to about 21C global average temperature, just shy of "hot house Earth". And the train doesn't stop in 2100.
They say that we're moving too fast, that we need to wait for more studies, but you can't work too fast. They say it will cost too much, but you can't spend too much money, it will take all the money there is and that won't be enough. They describe the changes called for as "radical", but you can't take any change off the table.
Also from the Guardian last month:
We too have seen the orange afternoon sky, and felt the soft, strange sensation of soot falling like rain, and watched the edges of the curtains glow in an amber haze long after nightfall.
We too have purchased masks and air filters, and had windless days where it’s been hard to breathe, and inhaled smoke from thousands of kilometres away and wondered if we should be worried about a wheeze that wasn’t there before.
They talked of the Pyrocene age and how they read somewhere that there are only 100 harvests left...
Note: I've heard more like 30 harvests left without factoring in climate change, which of course accelerates the change. From a different article:
The UN has warned that the world’s soils face exhaustion and depletion, with an estimated 60 harvests left before they are too degraded to feed the planet, and a 2014 study in the UK found matters are not much better, estimating 100 harvests remaining.
Back to the original article.
Dear America, we can tell you what happens next – we’re almost a year ahead, your friends at the bottom of the world, speaking from the future.
We can tell you that in the months after the event, when you can breathe again, women who were pregnant during the fire gave birth to babies facing potential long-term health risks.
We can tell you that even the worst fire season in living memory was not enough and that three billion animals dead or displaced is not enough and species pushed to the brink of extinction is not enough and even the birds falling from the sky in a “mass die-off” (a portent so obvious that it feels straight out of the Old Testament) is not enough to make the leaders panic and DO SOMETHING about man-made global heating.
Someone, I think it was here, asked in comments why billionaires and the ruling class don't see what's at stake. I think they do. They're on the top of the heap, they have the absolute best of everything this world has to offer, and they know that nothing is going to stop what's coming. So why wouldn't they keep the system going as long as possible?
I don't think that it's an accident that the masks are coming off. They can't even be bothered to lie to us any more.