“One or other of us will have to go,” Oscar Wilde is supposed to have said on his deathbed to the hated wallpaper in his room. The perilous acceleration of Arctic ice loss, and the imminent threat of irreversible climate change poses a similar ultimatum to the economic system that is pushing us over the brink. For society’s sake I hope this time we redecorate.
Fortunately, many people are queuing up to propose better designs, rather than just cursing the interiors, as you can read about here.
Monday 1 October marks the halfway point in a 100-month countdown to a game of climate roulette.
On a very conservative estimate, 50 months from now, the dice become loaded against us in terms of keeping under a 2C temperature rise. This level matters because beyond it an environmental “domino effect” is likely to operate. In a volatile and unpredictable dynamic, things like melting ice, and the release of carbon from the planet’s surface are set to feed off each other, accelerating and reinforcing the warming effect.
The time frame follows an estimate of risk of rising greenhouse gas concentrations from the world’s leading authority on climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that passed a certain point, it will no longer be “likely” that we stay the right side of the line. Some consider even a 2C rise too much, but it is the limit that the EU and others have signed up to.
Extraordinarily, however, in spite of the stakes, the issue has receded from the political frontline like a wave shrinking down a beach. This could, though, merely be a prelude to it returning with a vengeance. Politicians may have turned their backs, others have not.