Climate Change Part 2: The Tipping Point of Reality

Political and Scientific Denial

Until recently, climate change was considered just a figment of some peoples imagination by the worlds establishments. Some have even demeaned the clear scientific evidence to call it a new religion. Both, as the evidence now shows, have been negligent and wrong respectively.

Simultaneously until only recently the message of scientists in the Western world was initially stifled by the politicians, often at the request of the hydrocarbon lobby. Even now, when changes have accelerated to the point where they are undeniable, the recognition of the magnitude of the problem and the commitment to solve them still falls very  short of what is urgently needed. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), set up in 1988 by the UN and the World Meteorological Organisation, has over time mounted an unanswerable case in a series of reports. In 2007, it stated categorically that the probability that climate change is the result of natural processes alone is less than 5 percent. However, the IPCC back then was  a skeletal organisation employing only six people and reliant on the gratis contributions of thousands of scientists. It is also subject to political machinations. In 2002, it was revealed that Exxon Mobil sent a memo to the Bush White House calling for the removal of Robert Watson, the atmosphere scientist who was the IPCC’s first chair. The Bush administration successfully lobbied for his removal. In addition, despite repeated assurances that it would not sponsor organisations that dispute the human source of climate change, it has now been revealed that Exxon Mobil gave almost $1 million in 2009 to that very cause. The UN has been no better than the IPCC with its to little too late climate policies.

The scientific  community has and continues to be modulated by the human systems within which they worked and lived such that they moderated their climate change message so that it would not be dismissed out of hand. As a geophysicist my concern is that climate change scientists have been trying to model climate change using a multitude of variables in an extremely complex system. My approach has been that 800,000 year ice cores are the summation of that complex system and how it has behaved and will behave. On that basis the current 417 PPM equates to an 11 degree shift. Naturally there would be a hockey stick type accelerated at a critical point in the planets heating process and I believe we are now in that acceleration. That is why the linear models have underestimated both the speed and magnitude of the current change.

To compound the problem the institutions that advise western  governments have often been slow to recognise change and unable to cope with non-linear dynamics. This is a reflection of the general inertia of the collective consciousness of all human societies, particularly those in decline (e.g. those in the West). While those in expansion are better at coping with non-linear shifts, however climate change has been a very low priority for the emerging nations.

The Ice Hits the Water

The truth is that we are not facing a gradual shift in climate of 2 degrees in a century which would make it our children's problem. Rather the reality is that, as I have argued for 15 years, we have baked in a catastrophic 11 degrees even if we stopped any emission right now which makes our immediate problem .My argument as to the severity of the climate change has to date been a lone voice in the dark. However climate change is not an emotive discussion but founded in the reality of our planets climate. This the one thing that will force a change onto the nations of mankind, the increasing evidence of the reality and acceleration of climate change. It is worth reviewing just a few recent climate events to see just how severe and widespread the observed effects have been. The evidence is alarmingly now all around us.

1.      Climate energy is increasing

a.      Ocean temperatures are rising at a surprising rate, fuelling more powerful weather systems and associated winds and wave heights. A friend told me a story that a tourist boat operator could only operate 50% of the previous year in Mauritius outside the reef due to the increase in wave heights, something he had never seen before. I have heard similar anecdotal stories globally from my fellow sailors.

b.      Hurricane Dorian’s destructive power with its 220mph winds, was part of a long sequence in hurricanes that have been increasing in their destructive power as part of a greater pattern of climate energy.

c.       Mozambique was hit by a huge cyclone and then left extensive flooding deep inland with the most destructive human consequences.


2.      The land ice is melting globally

a.      Greenland ice melt rates this summer where unprecedented as part of a heat wave up to 22C that gripped the arctic region, and the ice is melting 50 years ahead of model predictions. Estimates predicted that some 12.5 Billion tonnes of ice melted equating to a few centimetres of water covering the whole of America.

b.      In Europe the glaciers are melting equally quickly and will soon be nonexistent below 4000 M

c.      The Himalayas are melting at an accelerating rate which will create knock on effects on regional water supplies and regional geopolitics.


3.      Sea levels are rising faster than expected

a.      Coastal homes are being lost globally as sea levels continue to rise.

b.   Low level island chains are at rise of flooding and inundation.


4.      Heat waves  and Droughts

a.      Wildfires fires have ravaged the equatorial regions of Africa and Amazonian South America and Indonesia spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere

b.      Australia's eastern regions have seen its river levels lowers to alarming levels.


The Scientific Community is becoming bolder.

All of these events have been given headlines and exposure to the public across every corner of the globe. With such evidence the scientists are now moving their predictions to greater and faster climate effects. David King one of Britain's most senior Scientists warned that it was appropriate to be scared, with climate change accelerating faster than expected with ice melting and extreme weather events. Meanwhile, French Scientists made public that they believe that we will see changes from 3 degrees to 5 degrees in the next 80 years.

Thus finally the future temperature estimates are moving from the all under control sub 2 degrees to the crisis levels above 5 degrees. I would expect this trend to continue and accelerate as it becomes obvious to the general populous that something is very wrong and that we are in a climate crises.

This tipping point of reality should also be the catalysts to mobilise the world to act in concert to save our human habitat from a quantum shift to one that is inhospitable to our current human civilisation. However in all probability it will take the inundation of a major littoral city to truly galvanise the world to a concerted  and effective response to the Climate Crisis.

In part three we will examine mechanisms Climate mitigation.




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