Climate change has never posed a larger threat to humanity, according to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Reuters reports:
“We just had the hottest five-year period on record, with 2015 claiming the title of hottest individual year. Even that record is likely to be beaten in 2016,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a statement…The last five-year period beat 2006-10 as the warmest such period since records began in the 19th century.
The heat was accompanied by a gradual rise in sea levels spurred by melting glaciers and ice sheets. The changes “confirmed the long-term warming trend caused by greenhouse gases,” the WMO said of the report.
Alarm bells are ringing. We’ll note that, while the details of climate change are devilishly tricky to nail down, and our understanding of the issue is a lot shakier than greens claim it to be, at the most general level it’s not difficult to trace a line between industrialization and rising surface temperatures. Those temperatures are now the highest we have on record (going back 165 years or so). We’ll take it as cold comfort, then (no pun intended) that a new study found that vegetation has helped slow rising temperatures over the past decade.
But as we set new temperature records, the strategy humanity seems to have settled upon in response to climate change—namely, a top-down, international “treaty” approach—is sputtering. The Paris climate deal is now officially on the books, having garnered the 55 countries (representing at least 55 percent of global emissions) necessary to “ratify” the agreement, but as it goes into effect, the full reality of how little weight it carries is starting to sink in. Not only does it lack any meaningful enforcement mechanisms, but as the New York Times reluctantly acknowledges, the Paris deal has done precious little to make climate adaptation and mitigation efforts economically viable:
The financial framework, namely a carbon price or tax that would force industries to pay for the pollution they spew, has barely started to emerge. And while tens of billions of dollars of green bonds have been issued to finance environmental projects, these are a pittance compared to the sums required to make a difference. […]
From a market perspective, many companies do not yet have a strong financial imperative to make sweeping changes to address climate change. Fledgling exchanges for trading carbon emissions rights have attracted limited interest. And the prices on those markets are well below the $100 a ton or more that experts say would force companies to limit their emissions of greenhouse gases.
Between this latest WMO report and the lackluster “ratification” of the Paris deal, it’s clear that the problem of climate change is getting worse faster than the cumbersome green policy agenda, tangled as it is in the Malthusian weeds and demagogic false promises that have grown up around it, can properly deal with.
This seems unlikely to change without a fresh look at the climate, which will come only when mainstream greens stop seeing more creative thinkers—people like Michael Shellenburger, Ted Nordhaus, Bjorn Lomborg, and so on—as The Enemy, but rather as their true friends. Because as good as the modern environmental movement has gotten at painting a dismal portrait of the future, it’s proven far less adroit at prescribing smart policy solutions. For that, and for the sake of humanity’s place on this planet, we desperately need a smarter brand of green.