Being a blogger who follows climate science and environmentalism, I often get asked whether I am pessimistic or optimistic about our ability to tackle climate change. Recently, that's been a hard question to answer. Here's why:
On the one hand, from Chinese coal consumption peaking years ahead of schedule to an unprecedented global climate agreement, we are making incredible societal and technological progress toward a low carbon economy. On the other hand, from accelerated sea level rise to rapidly rising temperatures, the impacts of climate change appear to be getting worse at an alarming pace.
Now The Guardian reports that average global surface temperatures in February broke historical records by a "shocking" margin, ending up at a full 1.35C above monthly averages between 1951-1980, and much higher than anything ever seen before. While scientists tend to avoid putting too much emphasis on any one month, the jump was so pronounced that climate scientists around the world are ringing alarm bells. From Prof Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research in Germany declaring a "climate emergency" to Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, describing the data as "a very worrying result," The Guardian article has collated reactions from some of the world's leading scientists.
We might want to start paying attention.