New York Times: “Climate Disruption Is Now Locked In”

Climate Disruption Is Now Locked In. The Next Moves Will Be Crucial. New York Times, 22 September 2020


The Times spoke with two dozen climate experts, including scientists, economists, sociologists and policymakers…
Their most sobering message was that the world still hasn’t seen the worst of it. Gone is the climate of yesteryear, and there’s no going back.

The effects of climate change evident today are the results of choices that countries made decades ago to keep pumping heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at ever-increasing rates despite warnings from scientists about the price to be paid. … That price — more vicious heat waves, longer wildfire seasons, rising sea levels — is now irretrievably baked in. Nations, including the United States, have dithered so long in cutting emissions that progressively more global warming is assured for decades to come, even if efforts to shift away from fossil fuels were accelerated tomorrow.

“What we’re seeing today, this year, is just a small harbinger of what we are likely to get,” said Jonathan Overpeck, a climate scientist at the University of Michigan. Things are on track to get “twice as bad” as they are now, he said, “if not worse.

“Don’t think of it as the warmest month of August in California in the last century,” [Cristian Proistosescu, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois] wrote. “Think of it as one of the coolest months of August in California in the next century.”

Managing climate change, experts said, will require rethinking virtually every aspect of daily life: how and where homes are built, how power grids are designed, how people plan for the future with the collective good in mind. It will require an epochal shift in politics in a country that has, on the whole, ignored climate change.

For a long time, “there was so much focus on how climate change would affect the most vulnerable, like low-lying island nations or coral reefs — things that don’t dramatically affect the economic powerhouses of the world,” said Katharine Mach, an associate professor at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. “There’s often been this arrogant assumption that wealth provides protection.” … Recent events, she said, are a vivid reminder that “we’re all in this together.”

First, experts broadly agreed, if we want to stop the planet from relentlessly heating up forever, humanity will quickly need to eliminate its emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases. That means cleaning up every coal plant in China, every steel mill in Europe, every car and truck in the United States.

But experts also made a point they say is often underappreciated: Even if we start radically slashing emissions today, it could be decades before those changes start to appreciably slow the rate at which Earth is warming. In the meantime, we’ll have to deal with effects that continue to worsen.

Again and again, climate scientists have shown that our choices now range from merely awful to incomprehensibly horrible.

It is not going to go away. It is going to get worse – quickly. The best we can do is slow it.

Next Tuesday, two days from now, is the first Presidential debate. And climate change is not even a topic!

10 thoughts on “New York Times: “Climate Disruption Is Now Locked In”

  1. Bix Post author

    It’s a long article and it did go in to things we can do. But they are more about adapting to rather than stopping or reversing climate change.

    I imagine … smaller and more energy efficient homes and cars, more mass transit, get rid of coal, more green energy. People will move away from coasts, hurricane paths, fire lanes. Structures will be designed to float, or not burn, or not fall down. Supplying electricity on poles will be a thing of the past. What else?


    1. forumholitorium

      I just watched the Deutsche Welle documentary Climate Change – Living on the Water which showcases ways of building residential homes on the water. While some of the visions are clearly too expensive or too dystopian (I don’t want to live confined to a structure with thousands of other people under the surface of the water), the floating is-it-a-house-or-is-it-a-boat homes in the Netherlands are inspiring.


  2. mboydp

    There are hurricane-proof houses already down in the French Antilles. Have been for years. (As in “houses that don’t fall down”)
    Another idea–grow as many of your own veggies as possible.


    1. Bix Post author

      This is an enormous consequence of the change in climate – growing food. California produces a lot of our food, and the State is expected to get even hotter and drier in the coming years.


        1. Lucy

          I live on the MS Gulf Coast and often wonder if we should sell out and move further north. We live about a quarter of a mile north of the beach, and even during the worst storms (ie Katrina) we had plenty of roof damage and downed trees but no flooding. It seems the railroad tracks kept the water out of our neighborhood. I feel a stab of fear/panic every time I hear of a newly named storm in the Gulf, and trying to stay constantly prepared during hurricane season is stressful. When you are like me and have children and a disabled husband and limited finances and there’s a pandemic going on, and this is the only place you’ve ever lived, it makes it even more stressful. We’re like the majority – riding it until the wheels fall off.


  3. Marj

    We here in North Carolina have had so much rain this summer, I wonder if it’s a harbinger of what’s to come. I’ve been reading with interest too how extreme climate change will result in so many people displaced in the US due to intolerable temps and living conditions.



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