The extreme heatwaves and wildfires wreaking havoc around the globe are “the face of climate change”, one of the world’s leading climate scientists has declared, with the impacts of global warming now “playing out in real time”.
Climate change has long been predicted to increase extreme weather incidents, and scientists are now confident these predictions are coming true. Scientists say the global warming has contributed to on the scorching temperatures that have baked the UK and northern Europe for weeks.
The hot spell was made more than twice as likely by climate change, a new analysis found, demonstrating an “unambiguous” link.
Extreme weather has struck across Europe, from the Arctic Circle to Greece, and across the world, from North America to Japan. “This is the face of climate change,” said Prof Michael Mann, at Penn State University, and one the world’s most eminent climate scientists. “We literally would not have seen these extremes in the absence of climate change.”
“The impacts of climate change are no longer subtle,” he told the Guardian. “We are seeing them play out in real time and what is happening this summer is a perfect example of that.”
It is not too late to make the significant cuts needed in greenhouse gas emissions, said Mann, because the impacts progressively worsen as global warming increases.
“It is not going off a cliff, it is like walking out into a minefield,” he said. “So the argument it is too late to do something would be like saying: ‘I’m just going to keep walking’. That would be absurd – you reverse course and get off that minefield as quick as you can. It is really a question of how bad it is going to get.”
I have actually had a run in with Mann before now, directly. He challenged me to produce a better piece of science than a James Hansen estimation of what a carbon tax should be. I did this easily*. He’s not responded since.
But OK, this is climate change then. And we know what the most effective cure for climate change is, every economist on the planet has been shouting it for decades now – a carbon tax. So, Professor Mann is out there shouting we must have a carbon tax, is he?
No, no, he’s not. Thus I don’t take him seriously.
* Mann’s claim was that Hansen had shown that a carbon tax should be $1,000 a tonne. It was trivially easy to show that actually, he’d shown that it could be as much as that. The actual, from Hansen’s own calculation, rate would be not $1,000 but more like $100. Hansen has gone “If every thing goes wrong, if sensitivity is very high etc, then what should he rate be?” which is interesting. But the calculation of the actual rate must be weighted by the probability of that set of things happening. Which Hansen didn’t do.