Serious Climate Disruption: Here, Now and Urgent

 

"It is, I promise, worse than you think"
(David Wallace-Wells)
 


Climate disruption is now the greatest threat to humanity. We have lots of other issues of course (nuclear instability, ecologically extinctions), but climate change will, if not acted on and prepared for decisively, overrun our economic, political, civic, health and security systems. This is not a prediction for a century from now. It is now here, today.


Unfortunately, climate science keeps on bringing bad news; each new report from the world's leading climate science organisation, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), shows rapid planetary heating, rising carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, and larger storms, more severe flooding, increasingly dangerous bush fire seasons and the rate sea level rise doubling since the 1970s.

The worst case scenario is an uninhabitable earth that is too hot for humans. Governments of the world agreed in Paris in 2015 to limit global heating to well below 2 degrees C (this means 2 degrees C above the long term average for the 20th Century). The aim was for 1.5 degrees.

Yet, emissions keep rising and with them, global temperatures. Most scientists have now given up any chance of staying under 1.5C. Without simply unprecedented action we risk exceed 2C mid-century. But the heating will not stop there; currently the world is on track for a 3 degree or more world.

This would be catastrophic. All the climate related events (Australian and Californian bush fires of 2019/20, the longest ever drought, record breaking storms, coastal erosion and the death of the Great Barrier Reef) are all taking place with only 1 degree of average temperature increase.

While 1 degree is barely noticeable in terms of daily weather, it has enormous implications for the climate system.  Consider what doubling that to 2 degrees means. Life as we know it would be no longer possible. Parts of the world he world will be much more difficult to live in. Then there is the financial and human cost. Sea levels will keep rising. Insurance will be unaffordable for many living in vulnerable zones. Heat waves, which already kill many more people than bush fires, will cripple cities.  

Prof John Holdren from Harvard University and former President Obama Science advisor says that:

 

"the difficulty in a problem like climate change is the time lag.

By the time there are dead bodies in the street, you’re

already way down the road. At any given time,

we’re not experiencing everything that we’re already committed to".

The world we grew up in no longer exists

We can no longer return to the 'normal' climate many of us knew.  We can no longer 'solve' climate change. We now have to learn to live with it, adapt the best we can and, most of all, not make the future any worse.

 

Acting urgently is now mandatory; we can reduce emissions, we can move to clean energy, we can create a climate-safer future and we can adapt to the changes that are increasingly felt. There is a lot of good news here, especially with the unanticipated growth of renewable energy.

 

But even more importantly we must prepare for change. Not just major change, but civilizational change. Everything will change. We will lose things we love. There may well be some level of environmental and societal collapse. A number of scholars are considering this risk. 

 

We cannot face the future in the same way that we have been doing. We must do what we can to open our imaginations up to a radically different set of future possibilities.

Yet ... we can still create a future even if we have no more than a glimmer of what that might look like.

 

We can still create a future well worth living for!

 

This is why we have created this concert. We must act, force our leaders to act, challenge those corporate leaders who are placing private profit over community well-being, divest from fossil fuels and reinvest urgently in green technology.

 

We must become the type of people a safer future needs.

 

And we must find joy and reassurance in our solidarity, action and creativity.

 

And that is one thing music can help with!

CARBON AND THE WARMING OF THE EARTH

 

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is an important part of the earth's atmosphere, that thin blanket of gases that surround out planet. It helps moderate the planet's temperature by trapping just the right amount of heat from the sun

For at least the past 800,000 years the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere was between 230-280 parts per million (ppm).  From about 12,000 years ago until today, the climate was unusually stable (which is why agriculture revolution got kick started then and not earlier). CO2 levels did not fluctuate much until the start of the Industrial Revolution when we started burning coal (and later oil) in huge amounts.

Then CO2 started to rise. And as it rises, it also causes the earths average temperature to rise, because more CO2 traps more heat. Some of that heat goes into the oceans, which is one reason Australia's great barrier reef is threatened and unlikely to survive over the next few decades.

Some of that heat makes drought more likely in some parts of the world, and when it does rain, because there is more water in a heated atmosphere, those floods will be increasingly devastating.

Australia is seeing hotter and hotter summers with new temperature records being broken regularly. And the heat waves that follow are often deadly. There is a serious risk that parts of Australia will become unlivable in a few decades due to dangerous temperatures and humidity. 

The solutions now are tough; we have to slow down and quite quickly stop greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere and the oceans. The atmosphere belongs to everyone, including future generations.

 

Music for a Warming World believes that this is now a global crisis. This is not a happy message but it is a real message. Continually dumping carbon into our atmosphere will create an unlivable world for most people (let alone the cost to other species, what is being called the 'sixth extinction'.

Join with us in playing a role in changing our future.

Copyright Simon Kerr 2020