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Our Final Warning: Six Degrees of Climate Emergency

New York Review of Books: “As we drive and heat and light and build, we put about 35 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere annually. At the moment oceans and forests soak up slightly more than half of that, but as we shall see, that grace is not to be depended on into the future, and in any event it means we still add about 18 billion tons annually to the air. That is by far the most important bottom line for the planet’s future. A survey of the damage done at one degree is impressive and unsettling, especially since in almost every case it exceeds what scientists would have predicted thirty years ago. (Scientists, it turns out, are by nature cautious.) Lynas offers a planetary tour of the current carnage, ranging from Greenland (where melt rates are already at the level once predicted for 2070); to the world’s forests (across the planet, fire season has increased in duration by a fifth); to urban areas in Asia and the Middle East, which in the last few summers have seen the highest reliably recorded temperatures on Earth, approaching 54 degrees Celsius, or 130 degrees Fahrenheit. It is a one-degree world that has seen a girdle of bleached coral across the tropics—a 90 percent collapse in reproductive success along the Great Barrier Reef, the planet’s largest living structure—and the appalling scenes from Australia in December, as thousands of people waded into the ocean at resort towns to escape the firestorms barreling down from the hills…”

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