EVERY DISASTER MOVIE STARTS WITH A SCIENTIST BEING IGNORED. AND WE'VE HAD OVER 30 YEARS OF SCIENTISTS WARNING US ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE.
The idea of a hapless scientist foreshadowing doom is a common disaster movie theme. It's so common that a quick Google search of the phrase "every disaster movie starts with a scientist being ignored," returns an array of T-shirts boasting the phrase, and photos from climate action protests with the words splashed across picket signs. Over thirty years ago, we had lots of scientists warning us about climate change — and they continue to do so today. Yet climate change remains a politicised issue and a topic that is up for debate. Except now, mid-way through 2018, we find ourselves in the midst of unprecedented heatwaves and wildfires and it feels like we're getting to the disaster part of the movie.
BBC Radio wanted to have me on today to debate a climate-denier in the context of the drought/heatwave.
I said NO.
I told them it was a disgrace that they still give climate-deniers airtime at a time like this.
I won't be part of such charades any longer.
Please RT if you agree.
— Rupert Read (@GreenRupertRead) July 31, 2018
The wildfires currently consuming California in North America became the 2nd largest in the state's history over last weekend. Scandinavia is dangerously dry as unprecedented wildfires burn as far as the Arctic Circle and spread across Sweden. Greece just suffered through devastating wildfires, exacerbated by an unusually dry winter and spring. Northern Europe is sweltering through record-setting heatwaves and Montreal recorded its highest temperature in 147 years in July. But it doesn't stop there. Zoom out further in the Northern hemisphere and the mercury is rising in Japan and Africa too. Record high temperatures were recorded near Tokyo at 41.1°C, and 51.3°C in Algeria, Africa. The world's hottest overnight minimum temperature was also recorded this year in the Middle Eastern country of Oman in late June, at a cool 42.6°C.
This weather is not just confined to the Northern Hemisphere. Most of Australia is coming out of a hot July which had more sunshine, higher temperatures and less rainfall than usual for this time. In fact, this July Australia experienced its warmest daytime maximum temperature for the month. We are also being gripped by a severe drought dubbed 'The Big Dry'.
So what has climate change got to do with all of this?
Some longstanding weather systems go some way toward explaining international extreme weather, but not all the way. The link between the current weather events and climate change is strong and undeniable.
Global temperatures are on the rise as more and more temperature records are being set. Since the Industrial Revolution global temperatures have risen just over 1 °C and each decade they are predicted to continue to climb 0.17°C. This means that heatwaves are starting off from a higher baseline, creating hotter extremes. The World Weather Attribution Project estimated that climate change made the heat Northern Europe is currently experiencing twice as likely to happen. The increased likelihood of reaching hot temperature records has in fact been directly linked to the impact of humans on the climate.
The weather events of this year so far have begged the question: "Will the world take climate change seriously and do something about it?". The time for debate should have ended long ago. As we begin to live with the extreme consequences of climate change we can no longer deny the urgency of climate action.