Journalist Bill Blakemore has another great piece on ABC’s website:
‘The Great Big Book of Horrible Things’: WWII and Climate Change
What our great failure in the 1930s may teach about facing the rapid assault of manmade global warming (Or “Hell is the truth seen too late.”)
Dresden (Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
It is the continuation of an essay he wrote about last week, which I blogged about here: “ ‘Hug The Monster’: Why So Many Climate Scientists Have Stopped Downplaying the Climate Threat.”
Blakemore cites the great quote from 18th century philosopher Thomas Hobbes, “Hell is truth seen too late.” Since I wrote a book on climate a few years back, Hell and High Water, that quote seems particularly apt to me for climate.
Blakemore’s piece starts by looking at The Great Big Book of Horrible Things: The Definitive Chronicle of History’s 100 Worst Atrocities by Matthew White, noting:
The world’s climate scientists are in effect telling us that one part of the truth we must now try to see is humanity’s ability — or lack of it — for collective prevention of enormous manmade disaster, atrocity.
The record is worrisome.
He then examines humanity’s problematic track record of not preventing catastrophes even when many powerful people were aware of what was happening or about to happen, including the great atrocities of World War II. And no, there is no direct analogy being made (see “Climate Science Disinformers Are Nothing Like Holocaust Deniers“).
Blakemore cites a presentation by Harvard historian and social anthropologist Timothy Weiskel — a colleague of mine 20 years ago at the Rockefeller Foundation. Weiskel in turn cites John F. Kennedy’s 1940s book, Why England Slept (a title JFK ‘borrowed’ from Churchill’s 1938 book, though JFK’s book was originally his senior thesis at Harvard titled, Appeasement in Munich):
“To say that all the blame must rest on the shoulders of Neville Chamberlain or of Stanly Baldwin, is to overlook the obvious. As the leaders, they are, of course, gravely and seriously responsible. But, given the conditions of democratic government, a free press, public elections, and a cabinet responsible to Parliament and thus to the people, given rule by the majority, it is unreasonable to blame the entire situation on one man or group…”
Blakemore notes, “But this time, say today’s climate scientists, the rapidly approaching climate catastrophe threatens to kill far more people than all of White’s 100 Deadliest atrocities combined.”
There is little question that if we continue to listen to the disinformers and the do-little crowd, we are very likely headed toward global warming in excess of 10°F, as the International Energy Agency and many others have made clear. That will destroy a livable climate (see “An Illustrated Guide to the Science of Global Warming Impacts: How We Know Inaction Is the Gravest Threat Humanity Faces“).
Indeed, that is “incompatible with organized global community, is likely to be beyond ‘adaptation’, is devastating to the majority of ecosystems & has a high probability of not being stable (i.e. 4°C [7F] would be an interim temperature on the way to a much higher equilibrium level),” according to Professor Kevin Anderson, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change in Britain (see here).
Blakemore points out that a great many scientists are worried that this would lead to a staggering amount of misery and starvation: