Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to the Guardian, the “surprisingly small” temperature increases we have experienced to date is causing “unprecedented pain and turmoil”.
The climate disaster is here
Earth is already becoming unlivable. Will governments act to stop this disaster from getting worse?
The enormous, unprecedented pain and turmoil caused by the climate crisis is often discussed alongside what can seem like surprisingly small temperature increases – 1.5C or 2C hotter than it was in the era just before the car replaced the horse and cart.
These temperature thresholds will again be the focus of upcoming UN climate talks at the COP26 summit in Scotland as countries variously dawdle or scramble to avert climate catastrophe. But the single digit numbers obscure huge ramifications at stake. “We have built a civilization based on a world that doesn’t exist anymore,” as Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University and chief scientist at the Nature Conservancy, puts it.
The world has already heated up by around 1.2C, on average, since the preindustrial era, pushing humanity beyond almost all historical boundaries. Cranking up the temperature of the entire globe this much within little more than a century is, in fact, extraordinary, with the oceans alone absorbing the heat equivalent of five Hiroshima atomic bombs dropping into the water every second.
Until now, human civilization has operated within a narrow, stable band of temperature. Through the burning of fossil fuels, we have now unmoored ourselves from our past, as if we have transplanted ourselves onto another planet. The last time it was hotter than now was at least125,000 years ago, while the atmosphere has more heat-trapping carbon dioxide in it than any time in the past two million years, perhaps more.
You might need to upgrade your browser before you look at the Guardian page, someone went to an impressive amount of effort to add all those interactive features. Though I’m not entirely sure how the picture of someone bathing an elephant fits into the mix.
As I sit on my chair, with a stomach full of home made roast chicken drumsticks, cauliflower cheese sauce, roast vegetables and spinach, I’m wondering when the climate apocalypse is going to make an appearance.
That chicken, I flavoured it with Salt, Sage, All Spice, Sumac and Garlic Powder. I don’t grow any of those herbs in my garden, someone prepared all the herbs in a factory, dried and ground them, and packaged them in neat little containers, so people like me can just try out them out, along with hundreds of other herbs in similar packages. The chicken came in neat plastic containers, ready to cook. I bought bulk chicken prepared by a machine, plucked, washed, neatly packaged. I didn’t grow the potatoes or cauliflower, or prepare the cheese, or grow the spinach, I just took ingredients from the local fruit and veg shop, combined them with ingredients from a discount supermarket which recently opened, threw it in the oven. The oven is powered by gas, so I didn’t have to gather firewood or prepare a fire. My kitchen workspace was illuminated by 200 watts equivalent of LED lighting, which costs pennies per day to run. Hot and cold water was available at the touch of a tap, along with other chemicals for cleaning, a bottle of cooking oil in a neat plastic container, and a tin of delicious chicken gravy powder I can’t believe I hadn’t tried – I bought it months ago, but I forgot about it, it just sat on a shelf waiting for me to notice it, and mix the perfect gravy to go with my home cooked chicken.
My wife had some mayonnaise with her meal. I’ve made home made mayonnaise, it takes 5 minutes with the aid of a food processor, just add a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice, a teaspoon of mustard powder, an egg, salt and pepper to taste, then slowly add a cup or so of canola oil one drop at a time while blitzing the mixture until it emulsifies and goes fluffy. The result is delicious, much better than store bought mayonnaise. I made some earlier this week to go with a delicious home made coleslaw salad. But tonight I was feeling lazy, so I squirted some store bought mayonnaise out of a plastic squeeze bottle I keep in the refrigerator on my wife’s plate.
There has never been an age like today, an age in which ordinary people could cook a nice meal, or order takeout if they can’t be bothered cooking, eat delicious food, watch TV, visit the Guardian website on their computer, and try to convince themselves they are experiencing some kind of disaster.
People who describe the unprecedented comfort and ease of modern life as a climate disaster, in my opinion have no idea what a real problem is.