Tim Louis: Another dire climate warning

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      Over the past year—beginning with my March 11 blog A Dire Warning—I have written a number of times about our Earth’s climate crisis, and in particular very real possibility that we may have passed the point of no return.

      I have explained that once negative carbon feedback loops are put into play, they then feed on themselves and no amount of greenhouse gas emissions reduction on the part of humankind will halt the increasing and irreversible damage to our environment.

      I am very sad to say that an analysis published in the journal Science on September 9, 2022 confirmed my worst fears—in fact it’s conclusions are even more bleak than earlier predictions in my blogs.

      The publication is titled "Exceeding 1.5°C global warming could trigger multiple climate tipping points", but the analysis indicates that even global warming of 1°C, a threshold that we already have passed, puts us at risk by triggering some tipping points.

      A tipping point is the point at which change to the climate system is unstoppable, even if global heating ends.

      The analysis, which assessed more than 200 previous studies, indicates that the world is now facing nine potential tipping points with global implications and a further seven which will have regional impacts.

      An overview of this study, published in the Guardian, reports findings that five major tipping points have possibly already been reached due to the 1.1°C rise in global heating to date.

      These tipping points include the collapse of Greenland’s ice cap, eventually triggering massive sea level rise; the collapse of a key current in the North Atlantic, which will disrupt rain patterns and affect food production for billions; and carbon release from melting permafrost.

      An increase of global warming by 1.5°C moves these consequences from possible to likely. At 1.5°C another five tipping points become possible, including massive tree loss in northern latitudes due to fires, and increasing melting of mountain glaciers and polar ice sheets which will cause a further rise in global sea levels and coastal flooding.

      The analysis concludes that even limiting global warming to 1.5°C cannot be considered safe and provides strong scientific evidence that urgent changes are needed to lessen environmental damage.

      On April 1, 2022, I wrote about Canada’s 2030 Emission Reductions Plan. I argued then that this plan, although it has positive aspects, would not be sufficient to offset the oncoming catastrophe.

      The conclusions of the analysis published in Science make it more imperative than ever that we do not just establish greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets that are years down the road.

      The generally accepted 2050 target date for carbon neutrality is simply profoundly unacceptable. We need immediate, dramatic, and drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

      We must now make the necessary sacrifices here at home, and we must also provide very significant amounts of money to the developing world so that they too may make an immediate transition to a carbon-free economy. 

      Daily atmospheric CO2 [Courtesy of CO2.Earth]

      Latest daily total (Sept 15, 2022): 416.30ppm

      One year ago (Sept 15, 2021): 412.15ppm

      Tim Louis is a Vancouver lawyer and former city councillor and park commissioner. This article originally appeared on his blog.