The most terrifying graph you'll see all year
by David Atkins
Data taken from the 2010 UN Climate Change report gives us this:
See that 5 degrees Celsius we're projected to hit by 2050? That's 9 degrees Fahrenheit. That means the end of human civilization, and possibly of the human race itself. Within our lifetimes.
The International Energy Agency agrees with the assessment.
The Science Pope blog makes clear exactly what this all means:
Your brain will fight it, even with the numbers on the page staring back at you, because the collapse of civilization is simply beyond human comprehension. To really internalize this information means you would need to accept things like:
Next to this problem, the deficit isn't just child's play. It doesn't even exist by comparison. Drones? Let's get serious.
- You are among the last people that will ever walk the Earth
- Your children won’t survive to middle age
- All of the beauty, culture, and scientific discoveries we’ve unlocked will return to the ether from whence they came.
Forgive my French, but that is some heavy shit. Yet our ability to understand and feel threatened by this information is hindered by the fact that things don’t seem that bad right now. Sure things feel a little “off”, but how can we be so close to oblivion when life is (generally speaking) so good, modern and happy?
The answer is exponentials. Climate change does not follow a linear path (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc…), it follow an exponential path (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, etc…). Global temperature is increasing exponentially, fueled by humanity’s exponential rise in energy use, population, and economic growth. As you can see from the chart, exponential functions look like a hockey stick: they stay low for a long time, and then rise very suddenly and rapidly once they turn the corner. Everyone has some experience with exponential growth in their daily lives…any bank account with compounded interest will follow this curve, and exponentials are the reason that sickness spreads so rapidly through your child’s school.
There is one problem on this planet that dwarfs all the others right now, and it barely gets mentioned by the national press except as a niche environmental issue.