Saturday, 12 September 2009

Hot, hot, hotter

The symptoms of our planetary fever are becoming more obvious with each passing year. Now a place that has been locked in solid ice since our ancestors were swinging from the trees is turning to liquid, way ahead of previous scientific predictions. Robert Corell, one of America's leading climate scientists, warns: "If you want to see what will happen to the rest of the world, look to the Arctic. It happens there first."

The speed with which this is happening suggests it won't just happen to the grandchildren and polar bears politicians keep evoking in speeches. It will happen to us. The world's climate scientists are warning that in my lifetime, we could be on course for five degrees of warming.

What would that mean?


Another tipping point sees massive amounts of methane – a potent greenhouse gas – released by melting Siberian permafrost, further boosting global warming. Much human habitation in southern Europe, north Africa, the Middle East and other sub-tropical areas is rendered unviable due to excessive heat and drought. The focus of civilisation moves towards the poles, where temperatures remain cool enough for crops, and rainfall – albeit with severe floods – persists. All sea ice is gone from both poles; mountain glaciers are gone from the Andes, Alps and Rockies.


Global average temperatures are now hotter than for 50m years. The Arctic region sees temperatures rise much higher than average – up to 20C – meaning the entire Arctic is now ice-free all year round. Most of the topics, sub-tropics and even lower mid-latitudes are too hot to be inhabitable. Sea level rise is now sufficiently rapid that coastal cities across the world are largely abandoned.

So, no cause for concern then. Let’s continue marginalising walking and cycling, and keep motorists and the car the number one priority in all British towns and cities.