The good, the bad and the ugly of climate change in 2018

January 25, 2019

 

Although ‘economics’ is derided as the ‘dismal science’, I would suggest that an even more dismal one is ‘climate science’. The unfolding series of measurements quantifying how planet Earth is overall warming, and its manifestations, paints a gloomy future for not only our grandkids but our kids – and even us.

 

Increasing understanding of how humanity is driving this change, mainly through deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels, also presents solutions for turning this process around, i.e. revegetate and convert to renewable energy. However, an additional pall of gloom is imposed by the failure of humanity to, so far, meaningfully implement the obvious solutions to an otherwise inevitable catastrophe.

 

At this time of year, it is usual to sit back and review where we are, in the light of events unfolding over the previous 12 months.

 

Yes, the bad news keeps on coming but signs of meaningful action to turn around our present climate trajectory are appearing.

 

The bad

Global emissions of greenhouse gases continue to increase, driven mainly by rapidly industrialising nations with huge populations like China and India.

 

In Australia, after a period of declining emissions during the period of the Labor-Greens federal government, emissions began climbing again after the Coalition took power in 2013, with a sharp increase in 2018. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), the predominant greenhouse gas, passed 400ppm (parts per million) two years ago, realising that life