The Big One

The latest IPCC reports slid into existence without much fanfare from the media.

We should be used to this by now – the whole premise of the film “Don’t Look Up” is based on it – but given the starkness of the news they contained, it should have made more headlines than it did. It should still be making headlines.

The IPCC have told us that if we exceed thresholds of 1.5C warming above pre-industrial temperatures, we will begin to hit tipping points which will result in positive feedback loops.

These have already begun to happen. Some of them are quite gradual, like the ice loss in the Arctic.

Others are faster. The Amazon rainforest started putting out more CO2 than it was absorbing back in 2021. The drought that swept across Europe this year will result in a swathe of tree deaths in the years to come, just like the ones from the 2018 drought. There’s a concern now that the loss of ice sheets in Greenland could actually destabilize faults beneath, releasing methane trapped in the shallows; a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. (Ordinarily we wouldn’t worry too much about methane since it degrades in 8 or 9 years, but we keep putting more in, and we don’t have 8 or 9 years left to act.)

The global south suffers more than the rest of us, but we’re already suffering too. The temperature hit 40C in the UK for the first time. Wildfires broke out in south London. Trees are dying in my local park.

The number of climate-related disasters has tripled in the last 30 years.

And we know that it’s us. Humans. Not solar activity. Not volcanos. Not a natural cycle. The speed at which greenhouse gas emissions have risen is unmatched in the history of the planet.

There are things we can do as individuals (buying green energy, making sure our savings and investments aren’t funding fossil fuels, reducing our meat consumption, particularly beef – there are more).

The vast majority of emissions, though, come from industry, power and transportation, and it takes government policies changing to make the biggest impact on those.

Last year, Australia’s largest coal producer scrapped plans for a new mine. This month, France chose to ban all short-haul flights that have a rail alternative. Even in the USA, green energy is overtaking coal.

Here in the UK though, our government is still increasingly backing fossil fuels. It’s trying to open a new coal mine for steel manufacture, despite both our largest steel producers saying they don’t need it. We had to beg and cajole our Prime Minister even to get him to turn up at COP27. And they just cut taxes on internal flights.

That’s why, on Friday, I will be joining thousands of other people in and around Westminster, to protest our government’s actions and inaction in the face of disaster.

“The Big One” is being led by Extinction Rebellion UK, but other organizations are also joining in – Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Green Christian, Quakers, and more. It will go on all weekend, with activities, entertainment and workshops for the whole family.

If you can make it, why not join us?

If you can’t… please talk about it, post about it, make your views on the Climate Crisis heard, and help stop our precious ecosystem and our most vulnerable communities from quietly disappearing.

It’s too late to save everything, but there’s still a lot to save.

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