This page brings together the shortest, clearest and most authoritative information about our predicament that I can find, and our ways out of it … except that we have left action so late that we will never be able to go back to a pre-1950 climate.
Any “Climate Change Reference” page can rapidly become misleadingly out of date, since the science is new and is developing very quickly while the effects of global warming are also new and are, sadly, growing just as quickly. It means that any data or analysis more than five years old has probably been superseded. The plan here is to replace older links with newer ones as they appear; as a fail-safe, dates are given.
Climate Change: what do we know? How do we know it?
NOAA: Atmospheric CO2 charts (2021) and more – https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/climate-change-atmospheric-carbon-dioxide
Bureau of Meteorology & CSIRO: State of the Climate, 2020 summarised here – https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-11-13/bom-and-csiro-state-of-the-climate-2020/12871690
BBC overview of climate change (Jan 2020), with some excellent charts https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-46384067
Climate Council: global temperature change visualisation – https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/resources/140-year-heat-map-shows-clear-trend-global-temperature-change/
Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events
James Hansen, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, told us in 2011 that global warming was “loading the climate dice”, making extreme weather events both more common and more extreme. Here are a quick introduction (2011) and a more technical introduction (2012) to this work.
XR has a particularly good overview (2020) of the impacts of extreme weather around the world.
The ABC published this overview of the connections between major floods and climate change in the wake of the Sydney/NSW floods of March 2021. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-28/one-in-100-years-flood-talk-misleading/100030144. This video explains the difficulties of attributing and communicating the causes of extreme weather events.
Debunking myths, calling out disinformation campaigns
Climate Council: a series of mythbusting articles – https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/resource/mythbusting/
The Logic of Science: debunking briefly – https://thelogicofscience.com/2016/10/18/debunking-25-arguments-against-climate-change-in-5-sentences-or-less-each/
A good, concise introduction on The Conversation to the ongoing disinformation campaigns on fossil fuels, tobacco, pesticides and more – https://theconversation.com/on-the-origins-of-environmental-bullshit-80955
Disinformation database on Desmog Blog: look up individuals or organisations – https://www.desmogblog.com/global-warming-denier-database
Drawdown offers a summary of solutions to the problem of reducing atmospheric CO2, ranked by their potential to help. Each solution reduces greenhouse gases by avoiding emissions and/or by sequestering carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere. https://www.drawdown.org/solutions
Tipping Points in society may be as important as the tipping points in the environment. Vox explored some of them here in January 2020. The ABC (2021) has a good explainer …/acting-now-can-buy-us-time-on-climate-change/… about the carbon budget and why acting now is so important.
Carbon Brief shows (Nov 2019) that the Paris target of limiting warming to 1.5C is slipping out of reach. https://www.carbonbrief.org/unep-1-5c-climate-target-slipping-out-of-reach (it already looked very difficult to achieve eight years ago). As of 2021, we can still do it but we have to leave most fossil fuels in the ground: abc.net.au/news/science/2021-09-09/climate-change and the original research at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03821-8.
A group of scientists argues (April 2021) that we can and must aim for decarbonisation by 2030, and that less ambitious targets (e.g. 2050) are based on outdated climate science and outdated energy tech. https://cleantechnica.com/2021/04/10/47-scientists-world-should-go-100-renewable-electricity-by-2030/
Energy Cost comparison (Australia, 2019): “With all subsidies taken out, solar PV and wind wipe the floor with gas, coal and nuclear. Levelised cost of solar and wind is about $50 per megawatt hour, half that of gas and coal’s $100 per megawatt hour even without a carbon price. Nuclear is way off the money, priced anywhere between $250 and $330 per megawatt hour.” https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/coalition-wilfully-blind-to-economics-of-renewables-20200209-p53z4m.html.
The carbon cost of renewables is low and falling, too: https://www.forbes.com/…./2021/how-green-is-wind-power-really
(Global, 2020) Energy firms urged to mothball coal plants as cost of solar tumbles – companies could save billions as well as curbing carbon emissions. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/jun/02/energy-firms-urged-to-mothball-coal-plants-as-cost-of-solar-tumbles
The history and outlook for solar power (ABC, Sept 2021), with some mind-boggling figures: https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2021-09-19/solar-panels-why-australia-stopped-making-them-china/100466342
The myth that Nuclear power can save us is comprehensively demolished at https://energypost.eu/renewable-energy-versus-nuclear-dispelling-myths/ (2016) and again, a little more simply, at https://reneweconomy.com.au/too-expensive-too-slow-even-the-baseload-argument-doesnt-work-for-nuclear/ (2021). And fusion power has always been twenty years off, and still is – https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-02-10/nuclear-fusion-record-step-towards-low-carbon-energy/100818972
Methane – an overview in the light of new science: https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2020-02-20/fossil-methane-anthropogenic-climate-change-human-contribution/11975396
Gas as a “transitional” fuel. In a word, no; in more detail – theconversation.com/a-single-mega-project-exposes-the-morrison-governments-gas-plan-as-staggering-folly-133435 (2020) and www.accr.org.au/research/facts-over-fiction-debunking-gas-industry-spin/ (2022).
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) has long been plagued with the same problem as fusion power (always 20 years away, always too expensive) and now (2021) it has similarly been beaten by renewables. https://www.desmog.com/2021/11/19/cheap-wind-and-solar-should-prompt-rethink-on-role-of-ccs-paper-argues/
Hydrogen as a key alternative to fossil fuels: green hydrogen’s role will be to decarbonise industries and applications that can’t be electrified, while hydrogen from non-renewable sources has no future. https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2021-01-23/green-hydrogen-renewable-energy-climate-emissions-explainer/13081872 (2021)
(Historical) The Changing Global Market for Australian Coal – Reserve Bank of Australia, 2019. Thorough. https://www.rba.gov.au/publications/bulletin/2019/sep/the-changing-global-market-for-australian-coal.html. History and current status of Adani’s Carmichael project on Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmichael_coal_mine
Electric Vehicles vs the rest: it’s complicated, but EVs have advantages even if their electricity is fossil-fuelled. https://www.theguardian.com/football/ng-interactive/2017/dec/25/how-green-are-electric-cars (2017). The state of development of all sorts of EVs (from bikes to iron-ore carriers) is surveyed here at malcolmtattersall.com.au/wp/2022/02/electric-vehicles-overview/
Eating for the Planet
Our World In Data (2021) covers the issues very thoroughly at https://ourworldindata.org/environmental-impacts-of-food
It has become increasingly apparent that modern capitalism (aka hyercapitalism, neoliberalism) is incompatible with the health of the living world (including us). The IMF has recently warned of the dangers and business groups are taking action although, as always,more needs to be done. Samuel Alexander points out here, clearly and forcefully, that persisting with capitalism will stop us from achieving a sustainable society.
The Global Economy Is a Ponzi Scheme as Joe Romm noted in 2009 – https://thinkprogress.org/is-the-global-economy-a-ponzi-scheme-2c06fbd46c3/ – and a group of economists including Stiglitz said in 2013 – https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-entire-economy-is-a-ponzi-scheme-the-global-financial-system-is-insolvent/5331143 – and it’s going to collapse sooner or later. Managing the crash to make it as slow as possible, so that we have more time to adjust, may be the best we can do.
The elephant in the room
China is so big that its choices are central to the world’s chances of negotiating the emissions and climate challenges. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-23/china-climate-change-security-water-renewables-carbon-neutrality/12772034
Visions of possible futures
‘Air is cleaner than before the Industrial Revolution’: a best case scenario for the climate in 2050 and ‘The only uncertainty is how long we’ll last’: a worst case scenario for the climate in 2050 by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, architects of the Paris climate accords, in The Guardian.
A third of the world’s population may become climate change refugees: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/11/climate-change-rising-temperatures-may-force-humans-move/ (2021)