Why are scientists using the word “horror” about the climate crisis?  Climate crisis

Why are scientists using the word “horror” about the climate crisis? Climate crisis

Why are scientists using the word “horror” about the climate crisis? Climate crisis

B:In the 1980s, when climate research really began to take off, scientists were desperate to maintain their confidence as they discovered the potentially dire consequences of the “new” phenomenon of global warming. Most of the journalists were circling the subject because no one wanted to lose their reputation by scaremongering. But as the science steadily became overwhelming, researchers pushed their conclusions in the face of policymakers.

More and more scientists are now publicly admitting that they are alarmed by recent climate extremes, such as floods in Pakistan and West Africa, droughts and heatwaves in Europe and East Africa, and melting polar ice caps.

It is not because the growth of extremism was not predicted. It has always been high on the list of concerns, alongside long-term issues such as sea level rise. It’s the suddenness and ferocity of recent events that worries researchers, coupled with the uncertain threat of tipping points where the heating aspects become unstoppable.

Climate computer models typically predict a fairly consistent but smooth increase in temperature. But recently the climate seems to have worsened.

Why are scientists using the word “horror” about the climate crisis?  Climate crisis
A scene in the western Canadian village of Lytton, summer 2022, one year after the wildfire. Photo: Jennifer Gauthier/Reuters

A thermal event in Lytton, Canada, for example, produced a “dome” of trapped heat that raised the temperature to 49.6C. Forest fires raged and the city was destroyed. I broke the news to one of the Royal Society’s senior fellows, Professor Brian Hoskins, but at first he didn’t believe me. Then he said: “Oh my god, that’s really scary!”

The high temperature was shocking enough in itself, but surprisingly it beat the previous record by five degrees, when records are usually only broken by a few tenths of a degree. Hoskins told me later. “Climate models generally predict very smooth changes, while the real world suffers from rapid regional changes. Globally averaged temperature rise is a useful measure of how far climate change has come, but it does not convey the message of likely local and regional impacts.

“Thus, the land heats up more than the oceans. high latitudes warm more than low latitudes, especially in winter; heating is not uniform, which means weather changes. air that is 6C warmer can and generally does hold 50% more water, so rainstorms are much stronger; rising sea levels mean storm surges are more destructive.

“I am amazed and alarmed by the record temperatures and floods we have seen in many places around the world with just 1.1C of warming. [globally]”.

Flooding in Khairpur Nathan Shah, Pakistan this October
Flooding in Pakistan’s Khairpur Nathan Shah this October. Photo: Getty Images

In July this year, the UK had its first day of 40C. Two years ago, researchers said the odds this decade were 1 in 100. The fine print for the day revealed a truly extraordinary high temperature in Bramham, Yorkshire, beating the previous record by 6.5C.

Professor Hannah Cloke, from the University of Reading, said: “Things like this are really scary. It’s just one statistic in an avalanche of extreme weather events formerly known as “natural disasters.”

But it is the threat of unstoppable long-term change that worries the director of British Antarctic Survey, Prof. To Dame Jane Frances. He witnessed temperatures 40C above the seasonal norm in Antarctica and temperatures 30C above Arctic.

Francis was most concerned by a recent report which warned that if the 1.5C threshold, seen by most scientists as almost inevitable, is exceeded, it could trigger multiple climate tipping points with drastic, irreversible and dangerous impacts.

He said. “It’s really scary. Seems like some [these trends] are already underway.” He said he fears permafrost, the Greenland Ice Sheet, Arctic sea ice, and Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier and West Ice Sheet.

“These multiple impacts will affect the entire planet as well as local people,” he says. As a geologist, not a climate modeler, he looks back in time to find facts about the Earth as it currently is, with its inflated CO.2: a level that peaked at 420 parts per million in May.

“The last time the planet saw 400 ppm CO2: occurred three to four million years ago during the Pliocene period, when global sea levels were 10-20 meters higher and temperatures 2-3 degrees Celsius higher. Those changes happened over millions of years. Now it seems that we are forcing these changes on our planet in much shorter periods of time.”

Baffin Bay, a melting pond in an iceberg, was seen on July 20, 2022.  Over the past 20 years, the Arctic has lost about a third of its winter sea ice volume.
Baffin Bay, a melting pond in an iceberg, was seen on July 20, 2022. Over the past 20 years, the Arctic has lost about a third of its winter sea ice volume. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP/Getty Images

For most people, the crisis manifests itself in weather extremes. North America and Europe suffered their own climate wounds, with record-breaking heat and wildfires. Record rainfall in California failed to offset the drying effects of years of drought. Florida, whose Republican leaders voted against climate change policies, asked Washington for cash after Hurricane Yan tore through the state.

Floods in Nigeria have taken a heavy toll, and Europe has had an unrelenting summer of heat. Motorways in France were closed due to forest fires. Forest fires also ravaged Spain, Portugal and Greece. Northern Italy could lose up to half of its agricultural output due to a drought that has dried up parts of the country’s longest river, the Po.

And that’s only with 1.1C or 1.2C of warming. We will soon pass the 1.5C threshold, and unless much more radical action is taken, we are headed for 2C to 3C of warming. Scientists urge politicians not to define what 2C global warming above pre-industrial levels looks like.

Scientists are also frustrated by the limitations of their knowledge. Professor Richard Allan, lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said: “Climate change is only getting worse. A global rise of 1.5C would be much worse than now. But when you get down to local scales, we get extremes that models can’t capture. This includes local-scale droughts and floods. It is these events that are hard to imagine.”

So the scientists got in touch. They are sure that everything will get worse. They do not know exactly when and how much. They know that if they appear to be running a campaign, it can lose credibility. But their numbers are increasingly worried that they are trying to strike different notes with politicians and the public.

Another former IPCC lead author, Professor Piers Forster, from the University of Leeds, said: Extreme effects are bad now and will get much worse. But then we have to give people hope, and ourselves, as scientists hope. We can immediately slow the rate of warming if we act now.”

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