Thursday, March 21, 2019


On this day …. Sometimes anniversary events can underline and dramatise a sombre warning.

19 March 2009. BBC

John Beddington, then Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government, warned the Sustainable Development UK 09 conference of a global crisis 'to strike by 2030'.  Growing world population would cause a "perfect storm" of food, energy and water shortages by 2030. "It's a perfect storm."  (Link)

There is an intrinsic link between the challenge we face to ensure food security through the 21st century and other global issues, most notably climate change, population growth and the need to sustainably manage the world’s rapidly growing demand for energy and water. It is predicted that by 2030 the world will need to produce 50 per cent more food and energy, together with 30 per cent more available fresh water, whilst mitigating and adapting to climate change. This threatens to create a ‘perfect storm’ of global events.

The backdrop against which these demands must be met is one of rising global temperatures, impacting on water, food and ecosystems in all regions, and with extreme weather events becoming both more severe and more frequent.     Rising sea levels and flooding will hit hardest in the mega-deltas, which are important for food production, and will impact too on water quality for many.


Even since the last report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007, new evidence suggests that climate change is impacting the real world faster than the models predicted, and global greenhouse gas emissions are continuing to rise at the high end of projections. For example, in 2007 the IPCC concluded that large parts of the Arctic were likely to be ice-free in the summer by the end of the 21st century. Record lows in sea ice extent in 2007 and 2008, combined with other evidence on ice thinning and age, have caused scientists to radically review these estimates, with some analyses now suggesting the Arctic may be near ice-free by 2030 (Figures 5 and 6).  This has major implications not just for the Arctic region but for the world as a whole, as strong positive feedbacks effects are expected to drive climate changes even faster.” Recall that this revision is being discussed in 2009.

19th March 2019, Guardian:

Cyclone Idai, now devastating large areas of South East Africa, 'might be Southern Hemisphere's worst such disaster'.

 Dr Friederike Otto, of Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, said: “There are three factors with storms like this: rainfall, storm surge and wind. Rainfall levels are on the increase because of climate change, and storm surges are more severe because of sea level rises… Otto said it was important to help communities in the worst-hit areas become more resilient to storms. “The standard of housing, the size of the population and effectiveness of the early warning systems … these are the sorts of things we need to think about as we move into a world where these events become more severe.

We are now starting to see the real human impact of our collective failures to heed the warnings. The trend line, and the inertia built into our limited responses, suggests our problems may just be beginning.

Climate scientists, far from alarmist, have tended to understate the risks. Even in 2009, projections of Arctic ice melt were being revised upwards.

  • This is no longer a remote and uncertain risk. It is an existential threat.
  • In ten years, we have made nothing like sufficient progress to mitigate or adapt to the dangers we face. 
  • There is still a large constituency of political leaders, economists and commentators, that is in complete denial on the subject.  (Lawson, Mogg, Trump, Redwood, Phillips …).


BRAIN OF BRITAIN QUESTION. What else do those last named have in common?

ANSWER. They have all been enthusiastic advocates of Brexit. EIGHT ECONOMISTS. BREXIT AND CLIMATE

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