Playing Nice With the Fossil Fuel Industry Is Climate Denial

Kate Aronoff in The New Republic:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has released the first, nearly 4,000-page installment of its Sixth Assessment Report. The report, from a working group of over 200 scientists, distills the current consensus about the physical science of climate change from 14,000 peer-reviewed studies. This consensus is grim: None of the emissions scenarios this report highlights see warming kept below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). Heat waves previously seen only twice in a century will soon hit every six years, along with a slew of vicious storms and droughts.

Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are at their highest point in two million years. We can no longer avoid some of the catastrophic warming coming our way. Avoiding the rest will entail “immediate, rapid, and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,” per IPCC Vice Chair Ko Barrett. Most of those reductions need to come from polluting sectors the Biden administration continues to treat with kid gloves.

The point of this report is to identify “not just that it’s getting hot, but at what point things are unbearable,” Alex Ruane, a lead coordinating author on chapter 12 of the report and a research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told me by phone. That means exploring questions like, “At what point does the engineering of levees start to break?” and how hot airport runways can get before planes stop being able to take off. The report, he stressed, steers well clear of policy recommendations.

There are stark political implications, though. “There is no stable normal until we figure out a way of stabilizing the climate system,” Ruane told me.
More here.