I realize that Emma Thompson set the bar pretty high by proclaiming that we would achieve 4C of warming by 2030.
This of course is in sharp contrast to the The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which reported in their most recent Assessment Report that temperatures will rise by between 0.3C and 0.7C by 2035. (They write, “The global mean surface temperature change for the period 2016–2035 relative to 1986–2005 is similar for the four RCPs and will likely be in the range 0.3°C to 0.7°C.” Please see page 10 of the linked Summary for Policy Makers.) So far this century we’re not even on track to attain those modest goals.
Not to worry, however. Jonathan, writing in New York Magazine, is not about to allow Emma Thompson to be the chief doom-cryer for very long. He writes “The rise in atmospheric temperatures from greenhouse gases poses the most dire threat to humanity, measured on a scale of potential suffering, since Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany launched near-simultaneous wars of conquest.”
This is both absurd and a crying shame. Absurd because mainstream science does not share his opinion on the threat posed by climate change. A crying shame because what he writes below this tromp of doom is interesting and useful. But at least it entitles him to some interesting body art:
Mainstream science believes, as I wrote two days ago, that “Global warming is not expected to destroy the Earth. It is expected to be expensive, to cause loss of life due to more intense storms, to be disruptive to both industry and agriculture and to hinder development of the poorer nations of the world. These impacts are expected to kick in starting around the middle of the century. They certainly haven’t shown up yet.” I cite this report by the Potsdam Institute commissioned by the World Bank as evidence. Others might wish to look at the IPCC’s Summary for Policy Makers (here is the same link again), which also reports that while disruptive, expensive and potentially hazardous to many in the developing world, global warming is not expected to cause even 1% of the loss of life generated by Jonathan Chait’s recollection of World War II and its antecedent conflicts in Asia.
The reason it’s a crying shame? Chait accurately (if optimistically) charts the fall in costs of solar and wind power and points to the development of storage technology. He also details our decreased dependence on coal and gives credit to the main driver of that decreased dependence, natural gas. He also acknowledges the role hydropower has played in helping China and other developing countries reduce the rate at which coal consumption has grown in their countries.
Could have been a great article. Pity about the hyperbole. But maybe it will sell a few extra copies of the magazine.
That may be what it’s all about.