“Severe, pervasive and irreversible.” What on earth could they be talking about? Actually, it’s the effects of global warming (or climate change if you want to appease the sceptics). In the second of a series of reports for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) due this year the panel warns that “increasing magnitudes of warming increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts.” Basically, if we carry on with BAU then we’re all you know what. Even John Kerry, Secretary of State for the US, a country not hot on global warming, commented: “Unless we act dramatically and quickly, science tells us our climate and our way of life are literally in jeopardy. Denial of the science is malpractice.”
But apparently this tough love approach is too much for some faint hearts to bear. The report’s chair, Dr Chris Field, is worried that spreading the news of the impending apocalypse will cause us to bury our heads in the sand and pretend there’s nothing wrong, thus making the problem even worse. ”There is nothing inevitable about the worst impacts on people and nature,” Dr Field purrs, ”We can cut emissions to reduce the risks of catastrophe and adapt to some changes that will inevitably occur. We have to re-frame climate change as an exciting challenge for the most creative minds.”
Right folks, don’t worry that your kids and their kids are being condemned to a miserable lifestyle of uncertain weather, food and energy shortages, just chill out, hang loose and think about global warming as a career path. I can see the job ads now: “Wanted: dynamic, vibrant individuals passionate about visualising warming scenarios within a BAU context. Competitive salary. Members of environmental groups need not apply.”
And whatever you do, don’t mention the financial costs of global warming. The IMF estimates that poor countries need $100 billion to offset the effects of climate change, but this figure was somehow removed from the policymakers’ IPCC summary at the last minute. I wonder why?