We have entered Churchill’s “period of consequences”, yet governments have simply watched the disasters magnify, while rushing ahead with new pipelines and annual trillions in fossil fuel subsidies.
Governments simply cannot say they did not know. The events we are seeing today have been consistently forecast ever since the First Assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was signed by all governments back in 1990, which The Lancet has described as the best research project ever designed.
What Lies Beneath The understatement of existential climate risk.
What Lies Beneath is an important report. It does not deliver new facts and figures, but instead provides a new perspective on the existential risks associated with anthropogenic global warming. It is the critical overview of well-informed intellectuals who sit outside the climate-science community which has developed over the last fifty years.
This is a particular concern with potential climatic tipping points — passing critical thresholds which result in step changes in the climate system — such as the polar ice sheets (and hence sea levels), and permafrost and other carbon stores, where the impacts of global warming are non-linear and difficult to model with current scientific knowledge. However the extreme risks to humanity, which these tipping points represent, justify strong precautionary management.
Under-reporting on these issues is irresponsible, contributing to the failure of imagination that is occurring today in our understanding of, and response to, climate change. If climate policymaking is to be soundly based, a reframing of scientific research within an existential risk-management framework is now urgently required.