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Climate Change, Global Warming

Commentary: We are living through a new, horrible phase of climate change

Commentary: We are living through a new, horrible phase of climate change

31/7/2021 2:06:00 AM

Commentary: We are living through a new, horrible phase of climate change

The warnings of scientists are no longer about some far off glaciers melting – the warming planet is creating havoc right before our eyes, says ...

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Sign me up“That’s just sort of staggering,” says Brian Hoskins, chair of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London. “For many years I’ve said that the projections from the climate models are what we get if we’re lucky, because their behaviour is very smooth. If you take the output from models, then that heatwave should not have happened.”

SHAKEN CONFIDENCEGeert Jan van Oldenborgh, a climate researcher at the Dutch national weather service, says the record North American heat has “shaken the confidence of a lot of climate researchers”. “It means that the assumption that we had about how heatwaves react to a gradual increase in global warming may not be correct,” he says.

Van Oldenborgh co-leads the World Weather Attribution group of scientists who concluded this month that the North American heatwave would have been “virtually impossible” without human-caused climate change.He and colleagues are now planning wider research that will look at whether there is any evidence to suggest the climate is in fact starting to change globally in a non-linear way. Could it be, for instance, that changes in the jet stream or the migration of drought zones are triggering shifts we do not yet understand?

READ: Commentary: What Singapore can do to prepare for the next floodThis work is notable, considering the role of the scientific phenomenon that researchers such as Harvard historian Naomi Oreskes have called ESLD — Erring on the Side of Least Drama. Climate scientists have been relentlessly accused of fear-mongering and alarmism.

But as Oreskes and her colleagues wrote in a 2012 paper, “core scientific values of objectivity, rationality and dispassion” have led to conservative projections about the impact of climate change, even in IPCC assessments.READ: Commentary: China struggles with ‘once-in-a-century’ floods that may be new normal

This has not stopped the study of exceedingly dramatic concepts such as “tipping points” or thresholds that, once crossed, lead to drastic changes such as the loss of the West Antarctic ice sheet or Amazon rainforest. Indeed, a leaked draft of the new IPCC report suggests it may cover such shifts in more detail than past assessments have.

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Despite, or perhaps because, these scenarios are so bleak, some of the scientists focusing on them have begun to offer more hopeful ideas.The logic of a tipping point means it could also set off the irreversible advance of electric cars, renewables and other decarbonising measures, says Tim Lenton, director of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter: “That’s the glimmer of hope.”

In July 2021, however, it still feels distinctly remote.Listen to climate scientist Benjamin Horton break down how climate change is destabilising oceans, and what that means for us: Read more: CNA »

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Climate change is just the fashionable byword to blame everything on. Truth is we do not know anything about what's happening. 😎😇 That wasn't supposed to happen yet!

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