Bullet Point Climate Change Science Update

21,000 years ago, after the last Glacial Maximum, the world’s people were forced to cope with gradual temperature rises of as much as five degrees. It was probably down to a small shift in earth’s orbit, which led to more sunshine, which in turn saw global sea levels steadily rise by at least 120 metres until they reached today’s levels.

Much land was lost to the seas. A quarter of Australia, for example, disappeared under the waves between 8000 and 18000 years ago. But remarkably, at least 26 aboriginal tribes still tell ancestral stories about the steady rising of the waters and their land’s disappearance.

That was then. This is now. This time around it’s our doing, our fault that sea levels are rising fast again. Let’s hope we can stop it before our seas rise to dangerous levels.

If you’re wondering about the latest climate change news from the science community, here it is in bullet points.

  • Eating meat is very bad for the climate – luckily lab-grown meat, also called cultured meat and cruelty-free meat, will soon be available in the shops. Laboratory-grown seafood in the shape of shrimp, crab and lobster are due out first, paving the way for burgers and more. As New Scientist magazine says, “Governments should ignore the bleating of the meat industry lobbyists. It is time to put our money where our mouths need to be.”
  • Melting Antarctic ice alone could drive sea levels up 58cm before the end of the century, three times the hike the world experienced in the 20th century. Take into account the rest of the melting we’re seeing and it means sea levels could rise by a mighty 1.5m by the year 2100, catastrophic for many coastal cities and low-lying regions.
  • Hate hot nights tossing and turning? Expect more. The Northern Hemisphere is set to see the number of extremely hot days and intensely hot nights shoot up to 32 a year by 2100, four times as many as now. Since we’ve already warmed our planet to a scary degree, it’s going to happen even if we manage to halt global warming.
  • When your children’s gender depends on the temperature, climate change fucks things up. Many creatures’ entire reproductive future depends on a steady climate, not one that’s getting hotter. Take turtles and crocodiles. Global warming is driving a gender imbalance that could prove fatal for some creatures. By 2100, for example, scientists reckon as many as 93% of all new-born green sea turtles could be female.
  • Svalbard in Norway is home to a facility we really should not need. It’s a ‘Doomsday Vault’ containing hundreds of plant seeds from around the world, collected in an attempt to future-proof precious plant life against climate change. The vault can hold as many as 4.5 million samples. Let’s just hope it never needs to.
  • Australia’s wildfires have already burned a record amount of forest in the biggest burn-out the world has ever seen. 5.8 million hectares of land have been affected, and the biggest fire of all trashed an appalling half a million hectares all on its own.
  • While there are plenty of reforestation projects taking place around the world, deforestation remains a massive issue. Apparently today’s focus on reforestation hides a nasty shock – deforestation is actually getting worse. It has to stop.
  • More of us are giving up our cars. No wonder, when there are some surprisingly attractive ‘deals’ out there. If you live in Coventry, for example, plans are afoot to award newly car-free locals £3000 in transport vouchers.

The British government, like many others, is simply not doing enough to stop climate change. In fact its efforts are lamentable – it’d be funny if it wasn’t so tragic. The big businesses that drive climate change, those for whom profit comes first thanks to our crazy capitalist culture, aren’t doing much either. And that leaves ordinary people like us holding the baby.

Keep it up, good people

Whatever you’re doing on a personal level to mitigate climate change, keep doing what you’re doing. And keep the pressure on our government to extract their finger from their sorry collective arse before it’s too late. That, and taking direct action like our XR heroes, is about all you and I can do.

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