I am sometimes asked how I predicted the collapse of the climate so accurately. My answer is simple: I didn’t deny reality. Now, as I watch the horrific fires in Siberia and the Pacific Northwest, the devastating floods in Europe, and the agonizing destruction caused by the latest superstorm, Hurricane Ida, I feel a deep sense of woe and helplessness.
This sense helplessness comes from two directions: I have watched this situation develop inevitably and certainly for more than 30 years; I have watched leaders around the world waffle, deny and lie over that same period of time.
My fear is that it’s now too late. Just in the past 2 years, major changes have taken place that suggest that we are going to see the full impact of fundamental climate change, and that this is going to happen very quickly from now on.
People ask me what’s the best place to go to survive? I know wealthy people who have bought land and built shelters in various out-of-the-way places. I tell them all the same thing: this will affect every ecosystem on the planet. They will all change, including popular wealthy refuges such as Paraguay and New Zealand. None of them will change for the better.
So, what will the future bring. The next 12 months will tell us a lot. What happens in the arctic this winter is very important. If there is no significant arctic winter, and the cold air is once again forced south, then it could be that an extreme heating event is underway there. If so, the Russians will get their wish: it will be possible to use the Northwest Passage at last—to ship more oil more cheaply, of course.
We need a massive, planet-wide effort to save ourselves. And yet the US is actively encouraging more oil use by making sure that prices stay low. And yet China is aggressively marketing coal-fired power plants at cut rate prices across the third world, not to mention ignoring it’s own climate responses at home. And yet the president of Brazil actively encourages the burning of the Amazon jungle. And yet the chaotic mess that is Russia doesn’t have anything remotely resembling the will or the capacity to fight the Siberian fires.
As far as mitigation is concerned, forget it. We need effective carbon capture, new energy sources and, above all a popular will to survival that compels coordinated political action across the planet. But, as often as not, we get the opposite. When you hear a politician say that he doesn’t “believe in” climate change, what he is really saying is that he wants the planet to depopulate. This may be because he’s part of some esoteric conspiracy or other, or it may simply be an instinctive reaction to excess population, or perhaps a greed-based response that cares nothing for the future or even, life as it is being lived right now.
As I write this, I am watching a television broadcaster shout that what has happened in the US northeast as a result of Ida is a “once in 500 year event.” The stupidity of this sickens me. How can they be so blind? It is probable that such events are going to become commonplace, and for reasons that I pointed out before Katrina 16 years ago. Every time a tropical system enters the Gulf of Mexico, it is likely, as it comes ashore, to grow into a monster. This is because the near-shore Gulf waters are overheated. Ida crossed water off the Louisiana coast that was hovering around 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
There is no reason to expect that more Katrinas, Superstorm Sandys and Idas are not going to happen. “Once in 500 years?” Give me a break—this could happen again this year, or even more than one more time this year, and it certainly will happen many times over the next decade. In fact, every time a storm enters the Gulf or develops in it, there is a significant possibility that the superstorm trigger is going to be pulled.
And as to the North Atlantic Oscillation—the weaker it gets, the more deranged climate will become, and not just in Europe, although Europe will bear the brunt.
The new Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are Drought, Flood, Fire and Storm, and oh how they ride!
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