2022-10-27 David Wallace-Wells climate change warming world

David Wallace-Wells (@dwallacewells): Just ahead of COP27, the climate future looks both better and worse than it a few years ago. Belated action has made worst-case scenarios much less likely, but delay has made best-case outcomes impossible, too. So where are we headed? A long thread (1/x) https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/10/26/magazine/climate-change-warming-world.html

David Wallace-Wells (@dwallacewells): "Just a few years ago, climate projections for this century looked quite apocalyptic, with most scientists warning that continuing 'business as usual' would bring the world four or even five degrees Celsius of warming..."

David Wallace-Wells (@dwallacewells): "...a change disruptive enough to call forth not only predictions of food crises and heat stress, state conflict and economic strife, but, from some corners, warnings of civilizational collapse and even a sort of human endgame."

David Wallace-Wells (@dwallacewells): "Now, with the world already 1.2 degrees hotter, scientists believe that warming this century will most likely fall between two or three degrees. A little lower is possible, with much more concerted action; a little higher, too, with slower action and bad climate luck."

David Wallace-Wells (@dwallacewells): "The numbers may sound abstract, but what they suggest is this: Thanks to rapid declines in the price of renewables, a global political mobilization, a clearer picture of the energy future and serious policy focus, we have cut expected warming almost in half in just five years."

David Wallace-Wells (@dwallacewells): "This is inarguably good news and, in a time of climate panic and despair, a truly underappreciated sign of genuine and world-shaping progress."

David Wallace-Wells (@dwallacewells): "But just as important, the likeliest futures still lie beyond thresholds long thought disastrous, marking a failure of global efforts to limit warming to 'safe' levels. Through decades of only minimal action, we have squandered that opportunity."

David Wallace-Wells (@dwallacewells): "Perhaps even more concerning, the more we are learning about even relatively moderate levels of warming, the harsher and harder to navigate they seem."

David Wallace-Wells (@dwallacewells): “The good news is we have implemented policies that are significantly bringing down the projected global average temperature change,” @KHayhoe says. The bad news is that we have been “systematically underestimating the rate and magnitude of extremes.”

David Wallace-Wells (@dwallacewells): @KHayhoe "Even if temperature rise is limited to two degrees, she says, 'the extremes might be what you would have projected for four to five.'"

David Wallace-Wells (@dwallacewells): @KHayhoe "In a news release this week, the United Nations predicted that a world more than two degrees warmer would lead to 'endless suffering.'”

David Wallace-Wells (@dwallacewells): @KHayhoe “'Things are coming through faster and more severely,' agrees British economist @lordstern1. In green technology, he says, 'we hold the growth story of the 21st century in our hands.' But he worries about the future of the Amazon, the melting of carbon-rich permafrost..."

David Wallace-Wells (@dwallacewells): @KHayhoe @lordstern1 "...and the instability of the ice sheets — each a tipping point that 'could start running away from us,' he says. 'Each time you get an I.P.C.C. report, it’s still worse than you thought, even though you thought it was very bad,' he says."

David Wallace-Wells (@dwallacewells): @KHayhoe @lordstern1 “'The human race doesn’t, as it were, collapse at two degrees, but you probably will see a lot of death, a lot of movement of people, a lot of conflict over space and water.'”

David Wallace-Wells (@dwallacewells): @KHayhoe @lordstern1 “I mean, we’re at not even one and a half now, and a third of Pakistan is underwater, right?” says @OlufemiOTaiwo. “What we’re seeing now at less than two degrees — there’s nothing optimistic about that.”

David Wallace-Wells (@dwallacewells): @KHayhoe @lordstern1 @OlufemiOTaiwo "All of which suggests an entirely different view of the near future, equally true. The world will keep warming, and the impacts will grow more punishing, even if we meet the world’s most ambitious goals: nearly halving global emissions by 2030 and getting to net-zero by 2050."

David Wallace-Wells (@dwallacewells): @KHayhoe @lordstern1 @OlufemiOTaiwo “These dates — 2030, 2050 — they are meaningless,” says @gailbradbrook, one of the British founders of @ExtinctionR. “What matters is the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, and there is already way too much."

David Wallace-Wells (@dwallacewells): @KHayhoe @lordstern1 @OlufemiOTaiwo @gailbradbrook @ExtinctionR "The dates can be excuses to kick the problem into the long grass. But the important thing is that we’re doing harm, right now, and that we should stop absolutely as soon as possible with any activities that are making the situation worse.”