Though the 196 nations that make up the UNFCCC have pledge to keep temperature below 2°C—the warming threshold beyond which climate scientists tell us the climate becomes well and truly unhinged—former UN climate chief Yvo de Boer says that target is "out of reach." (Yahoo News)
De Boer added however,
The two degrees is lost but that doesn't mean for me we should forget about it. It is a very significant target, it's not just a target that we plucked out of the air; it refers to trying to limit a number of impacts. You shouldn't forget about it in the sense that you are ignoring the fact that you've gone through the trouble of formulating a goal and then not met it because of lack of policy action. The process therefore should be all about how can we get as close to 2C as possible, not to say 'start over again and formulate a new goal.'
These remarks come at a particular poignant time.
In the past week there have been at least three reports linking the extreme weather seen across the US, in Asia, and elsewhere with climate change.
Another bit of research says that we are perilously close to global warming caused by humans becoming irreversible, and that we're on track to hit roughly 3°C warming by 2050 and 6°C by 2100.
I won't revert to the outpouring of profanity that Brian recently spewed in hearing the news, but it really is pretty f*@king dire and excess profanity isn't out of line. Perhaps this isn't end of all human civilization dire, but, without any hyperbole, it's certainly end of the world as we know and knew it dire. Seriously.
Future historians, anthropologists, sociologists, and psychologists (assuming things don't get so bad that such professions exist) will write tomes about how we all let this happen.
We all may even be woven into future oral histories as the demons whose blind pursuit of wealth and willing blindness to environmental destruction brought down an entire globe-spanning civilization. We may well be spoken of as a future Atlantis or Lemuria, not sunk beneath the waves but still ruined all around.
But I digress. More poignant timing on De Boer's part:
India's parliament just heard testimony that because of warming temperatures, India's wheat yields may fall 18% over the next decade. Over the next decade. Not at some future point, but, essentially, now. They also heard that rice yields may drop 6% in the same time period and for similar reasons.
Globally wheat production could fall 14% by 2020, rice could fall 11%, and corn 9%.
And so, at least for the world's poor, if not quite yet for the wealthy, who can afford the rising prices scarcity brings, before absolute scarcity sets in, famine could begin.