The 97 points of the Glasgow Climate Pact (COP26) make heavy reading for a Sunday night, but I glanced through it. Man a.. and China and Russia did not even attend the conference.
The United States is at least serious again to make an effort, but as George Monbiot writes for The Guardian, it’s too late for incremental changes, and we need a critical minority to commit to the cause.
It works like this: ”There’s an aspect of human nature that is simultaneously terrible and hopeful: most people side with the status quo, whatever it may be. A critical threshold is reached when a certain proportion of the population change their views. Other people sense that the wind has changed, and tack around to catch it. There are plenty of tipping points in recent history: the remarkably swift reduction in smoking; the rapid shift, in nations such as the UK and Ireland, away from homophobia; the #MeToo movement, which, in a matter of weeks, greatly reduced the social tolerance of sexual abuse and everyday sexism.
But where does the tipping point lie? Researchers whose work was published in Science in 2018 discovered that a critical threshold was passed when the size of a committed minority reached roughly 25% of the population. At this point, social conventions suddenly flip. Between 72% and 100% of the people in the experiments swung round, destroying apparently stable social norms. As the paper notes, a large body of work suggests that “the power of small groups comes not from their authority or wealth, but from their commitment to the cause”.
As far as the hard numbers go, here is a to-the-point summary written by Adam Taylor and Harry Taylor in the Washington Post:
Where (temperature change) are we at now?
A Washington Post analysis of multiple data sets has found that Earth has already warmed more than 1 degree Celsius on average over the past century. Some places may already have seen rises of 2 °C.
Where are we headed?
In their latest report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated that under the current scenario, the world would likely hit the 1.5 °C threshold by 2040. Under the most optimistic scenario presented in the report, global temperatures would reach 1.5 °C by the middle of the century and then drop back down as emissions were cut further, potentially avoiding some of the worst outcomes.
Under the worst scenario envisaged by the IPCC, the best estimate was that the world will likely see a rise of 4.4 °C by the end of the century — with an extreme impact on life on Earth.