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Opinion

July 15, 2017

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Uninhabitable earth?

David Wallace-Wells’ article ‘The Uninhabitable Earth,’ New York Magazine, July 9, 2017 has created a furor of criticism, people bouncing off walls from coast to coast. Consider – the title of the article says it all!

The critics, including prominent climate scientists, claim Wallace-Wells’ conclusions are dangerously exaggerated, but are they really? Additional criticism is leveled by some of the first-rate news sources on climate change, like Grist: “Stop scaring people about climate change. It doesn’t work.”

For sure, Wallace-Welles’ opening in his New York Mag article describes Armageddon. In one paragraph, the reader finds ‘terrors’beyond anything ever imagined, “even within the lifetime of a teenager today.” Drowning cities may be expected, but according to Wallace-Welles, “fleeing the coastline will not be enough.” But to where?

That’s just for openers, moreover: “No matter how well-informed you are, you are surely not alarmed enough.” Wallace-Welles hits hard, never taking his foot off the accelerator. Full speed ahead, we are doomed, and it happens soon ‘within the lifetime of a teenager today.’

After years of studying peer-review climate research and writing over 200 articles, it’s easy to agree with David Wallace-Welles’ statement: “What follows is not a series of predictions of what will happen – that will be determined in large part by the much-less-certain science of human response. Instead, it is a portrait of our best understanding of where the planet is heading absent aggressive action. It is unlikely that all of these warming scenarios will be fully realized, largely because the devastation along the way will shake our complacency. But those scenarios, and not the present climate, are the baseline. In fact, they are our schedule.”

That schedule includes frightening highlights, to wit: According to most of the scientists he spoke with, Miami and Bangladesh are toast this century, even if fossil fuel burning comes to a sudden halt within 10 years. Dismally, the paleoclimate evidence shows the ocean, when the planet was “even four degrees warmer,” well above the Florida landmass – gulp. Regrettably, “The most recent U.N. Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change report projects us to hit four degrees warming by the beginning of the next century.” By the way, that’s probably conservative. That’s how the IPCC works.

Fascinatingly, he delves into the secretive opinions of leading scientists, which is refreshing, as well as deeply disturbing, but seldom, if ever, brought out in public: “But the many sober-minded scientists I interviewed over the past several months – the most credentialed and tenured in the field, few of them inclined to alarmism and many advisers to the IPCC who nevertheless criticize its conservatism – have quietly reached an apocalyptic conclusion, too: No plausible program of emissions reductions alone can prevent climate disaster.”

The operative statement therein: “Scientists… have quietly reached an apocalyptic conclusion, too.” It’s one of the world’s best-kept secrets that scientists either low-ball their research or risk job/grant loss! That lamentable fact has been publicly admitted by some of the world’s top climate scientists (mentioned in previous articles as well as captured on tape). It is a scandalous disservice to the public, to life, to the ecosystem.

 

This article has been excerpted from: ‘Uninhabitable Earth?’

Courtesy: Counterpunch.org

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