For the past 8,000 years we have benefited from a period of climate calm. That stability enabled the development of agriculture, settled living and civilisation. It was foundational to the modern world.
Those foundations are now being shaken. Throughout those eight millennia temperatures might have jiggled about slightly, but they were always within a tight band deviating, at most, by about half a degree from the average. We are now busting out of that range – temperatures are up by a whole degree in the past century and there’s every expectation that they will rise much further.
Some people are unperturbed by global warming – what difference does a degree or two make? A warmer world might even sound like an opportunity to cut heating bills and enjoy more time on the beach each summer. However, we need to think of our planet’s temperature as we would our own. A degree rise on the thermometer is discomfort, two degrees is a raging fever, three is potentially fatal.
We need to calm the fever. The good news is we know how to. The bad news is we may choose not to. Curing climate change is not beyond the wit of man, but it may be beyond our will.