Why the Climate Strike matters (in case we are still thinking the crisis isn’t urgent)

Written By: - Date published: 9:54 am, April 5th, 2024 - 7 comments
Categories: climate change, disaster - Tags: , ,

There have been a whole raft of tweets in the past week from climate scientists about temperature. Something important happening but mostly beyond my science literacy, so I have been waiting for someone to translate into language that most of us can understand. Here it is.

This tweet from Roger Hallam, ex-farmer, veteran climate activist and co-founder of Extinction Rebellion,

So here’s how we should look at all this temperature stuff. The fundamental thing to understand is that there is a cut off point where the human body dies in 6 hours (Wet Bulb Effect)- around 35C to 50C, depending on the humidity. As I keep reminding people, when people die they do not come back – unlike just being ill. These are the two key facts.

So really the thing to think about is not, hey it is now 30C at night in Crete in March every year or two. The KEY THING is how often is it going to be 50C at night in Crete? Let’s say that is every 20 years – so half the population dies in one day every 20 years.

This is why THE AVERAGE is completely irrelevant – the horror is in how often the long tail happens – how often a place hits the “all humans die in one day” point.

So if at 1C it is once in 10 000 years – at 2C it might be once in 100 years – at 3C once in 20 years (i.e., effective human extinction). At 1C things are tricky – at 2C things are super risky – at 3C half the world has to move because every 20 years they all die if they stay put.

Of course you are going to say well people will adapt (have underground shelters etc). Sure some people survive in the Sahara. But try doing that in an area such as France!

The biggest social shock of human history is going to be when the first mass mortality event happens suddenly and what I have written in this post will become the most important information in the world. And then everyone will go – oh fuck fuck fuck. The door of the gas chamber has closed.

In case you are interested in how this has worked in history you can read the “general crisis” on the 1C drop in temperatures in the seventeenth century when the global population dropped by a third. You can see that the mass death events happened all in one go when extreme climate events happened – droughts and extreme cold temperatures. When these happened two years in a row it took generations for the population to recover. And it did of course. But this time round it will never change. It will just get worse. 

The researchers concluded: “The geographic range and frequency of non-compensable heat extremes will increase rapidly, given only moderate continued increase in global average temperatures. This implies that, in the near future, a substantial portion of the world’s population will be exposed to these non-compensable environmental conditions.” 

“a real risk” of widespread exposure with “hundreds of millions of people” affected before they were sufficiently heat-adapted to avoid attendant increases in deaths and illness.”

https://twitter.com/RogerHallamCS21/status/1775732921904566546

Italicised quote from the Guardian last year. Deadly humid heatwaves to spread rapidly as climate warms – study

In case it’s not clear, those forward projections have three key meanings:

  1. New Zealand will not be immune from wet bulb events.
  2. What we do right now determines what happens in 20 years. Anyone currently under the age of 80 who thinks they will live to a ripe old age needs to reconsider what that now means in climate collapse terms
  3. We can still avert utter catastrophe if we all many of us act now.

Here is one of the other co-founders of XR, also a veteran climate activist, academic philosopher, and current director of the Climate Majority Project, Rupert Read. Where Hallam is on the leading edge of radical climate action, Read is part of the ‘moderate flank’ who are doing the mahi of working with the mainstream on climate. He’s not holding back either. In response to the following tweet about temperatures in India he said,

What are we even doing talking about 1.5 still allegedly being alive when we are passing it in real time? And NB: This year is likely going to be even worse. The line is still going upwards.

Only once we let go off impossible dreams can we (a) actually feel the full horror of what has happened, thus rocket-fuelling us, and (b) get serious about transformative adaptation (and loss and damage)…

https://twitter.com/GreenRupertRead/status/1775777028345597967

That’s the really bad news. The good news is that we have more choice now than ever before on how to act with meaning and purpose. Today is the Climate Strike, and beyond that every social and political action we do can sit within an awareness of the climate crisis and making a difference.

In every community in New Zealand there are people working on climate action and building a survivable future for us all. Find them and join in, or if you are already there, share what is being done. People need to hear about the things that make a difference and the stories of how this all works out.

7 comments on “Why the Climate Strike matters (in case we are still thinking the crisis isn’t urgent) ”

  1. Ad 1

    Somewhat perplexing that Peak Oil doesn't appear to be a thing anymore.

    World oil consumption did peak in 2018. But is that the real longrun peak?

    In reality the peak when we do reach it will be one enforced by cooperation and regulation over pollution limits, and enabled by supply and demand substitutes. Not forced upon us by scarcity or price spikes.

    Not that I want sunny optimism to break out, but we are not in a pre-Kyoto world now.

    • weka 1.1

      it looks different from climate action side. For a long time, many people believed that PO would undercut and prevent the worst of the climate crisis. Myself included. We were wrong. It's not that PO doesn't figure, it's that capitalism is going hard after the hard to get oil while convincing everyone to keep burning as long as possible. Presumably eventually the EROEI and economics mean the whole thing will collapse but not in time to prevent climate collapse.

      • Drowsy M. Kram 1.1.1

        Presumably eventually the EROEI and economics mean the whole thing will collapse but not in time to prevent climate collapse.

        sad When a profit can be had now, GHG concerns go out the window and into ‘our’ atmosphere; a liveable Earth don't enter in to it. If you couldn't laugh you'd cry.

        On the west side of The Square in Palmy, today's SS4C was attended by <100 people.

        Good speakers (activists, unionists, politicians (TPM, and the Green's Teanau Tuiono)) on global warming, the environment and other justice-related issues (Te Tiriti erosion, Palestine, renters, wages, unemployment, disabilities, service cuts), although it was hard for these old ears to hear over infrequent honks of support from passing cars.

        On the way home I noticed a large white marquee in The Square – it was covering a portable ice skating rink. A nice diversion from the climate crisis (What crisis?), and you'd have to be a real stinker to point out that such fun is contributing to an unliveable future – but sorry, Palmerstonians, the Early Bird sale has just ended.

        https://www.eesi.org/articles/view/as-winter-olympics-heat-up-ice-rinks-can-exemplify-climate-policy-in-action

        Variations in rainfall, more frequent droughts and ocean warming to record levels [11 Oct 2023]
        Aotearoa is also experiencing variations in rainfall, more frequent droughts and ocean warming to record levels. Glaciers are in retreat and sea levels around parts of the country rose twice as fast in the last 60 years as they did in the previous 60 years. The frequency of extreme temperature events in Aotearoa has doubled due to human activities.

        Less ice in glaciers, but more in The Square – problem solved!

    • georgecom 1.2

      the peak of conventional oil has come and gone, what has kept supplies up is unconventional oil such as fracking, tar sands etc

  2. Tony Veitch 2

    Check out the year 536 . . . when a volcanic eruption in Iceland led to two years of crop failures . . . then the plague broke out in Egypt and spread to Europe in 541.

    https://www.science.org/content/article/why-536-was-worst-year-be-alive

    But those years will be like a Sunday picnic compared to what is coming unless we act NOW!

    And this CoC is exactly the wrong government at the wrong time – climate change deniers!

    • aj 2.1

      I was watching a discussion between Kishore Mahbubani and Orville Schell recently titled 'The United States, China, and the Future of the Global Order.'

      A question and answer session near the end included one about the survival of humankind on the planet. Mahbubani had a great response which is slightly paraphrased below.

      The full video is very interesting, but to go direct to this response (to the last three questions) start this clip at about 1:04:00

      The last question and I completely agree with you that our planet is endangered in many different ways, and you spell them out, and frankly that's why in my book, The Great Convergence, I say that the world has changed fundamentally and to explain how change fundamentally I use a very simple boat analogy and I hope you'll reflect on.

      This boat analogy, in the past when we live in 193 separate countries it was as though we were living 193 separate boats right? so we could decide what to do on our boat and it didn't much effect different boats.

      But the world has shrunk and I really mean that literally we no longer live in 193 separate boats we live on 193 separate cabins on the same boat.

      Now if you are on a boat together and the boat begins to sink, the stupidest thing to do is to lock up your cabin and say I'll protect my cabin, and that's exactly what we are doing, which is bizarre we're supposed to represent the most intelligent species on planet Earth.

      But we are doing something completely stupid in response to these great planetary challenges and that's why I say the wisest thing you can do about this geopolitical contest between the west and China is at least just press the pause button for a while, look at what's happening in the world, focus on the real Global challenges maybe after we fix them then we can go back to the squabbles.

  3. Grey Area 3

    I managed to get to the Nelson march today (we're a way out). It was good to see a range of ages there. I wondered how many of we grey hairs would be there but there were plenty.

    It was multi-focus as it covered climate change, solidarity with Gaza/Palestine, and resistance against the coalition's undermining of te tiriti.

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