Sunday, October 22, 2017

There’s Only One Way to Avoid Climate Catastrophe: ‘De-growing’ our Economy

You can almost feel the planet writhing. This summer brought some of the biggest, most destructive storms in recorded history: Harvey laid waste to huge swathes of Texas; Irma left Barbuda virtually uninhabitable; Maria ravaged Dominica and plunged Puerto Rico into darkness. The images we see in the media are almost too violent to comprehend. And these are the storms that made the news; many others did not. Monsoon flooding in India, Bangladesh and Nepal killed 1,200 people and left millions homeless, but Western media paid little attention: it’s too much suffering to take in at once.

What’s most disturbing about this litany of pain is that it’s only going to get worse. A recent paper in the journal Nature estimates that our chances of keeping global warming below the danger threshold of 2 degrees is now vanishingly small: only about 5 per cent. It’s more likely that we’re headed for around 3.2 degrees of warming, and possibly as much as 4.9 degrees. If scientists are clear about anything, it’s that this level of climate change will be nothing short of catastrophic. Indeed, there’s a good chance that it would render large-scale civilization impossible.


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