The Big One

Last week I became a founding friend of Australia’s Climate Council, which seemed the least an expat could do in the face of the Abbott government’s short-sightedness—if not wilful ignorance—in axing its predecessor, the government-run Climate Commission. This week, the new IPCC report has demonstrated just how important bodies like these now are.

Climate change has been one of the main subjects occupying my attention in recent years (in fact, for as long as I’ve been aware of it), but you wouldn’t know it lately from this blog. The reason is I’ve been storing up links to write The Big One, the post that would go into carefully argued detail about the whole deal, converting deniers and consoling the despondent... but...

It hasn’t happened. Last year’s turbulent summer came and went, and then America copped the left hook of Sandy, and not long afterwards the right of Sandy Hook, which although it was nothing to do with climate change made it a bad time to bring the mood down even further. And then there were fires close to home with their own climate implications, and the winter that ate spring here in Britain, and it seemed that there would never be an end to new stories, new links, and my ever-growing hypothetical post.

Because there won’t be. Change is the new normal. To quote the title of one of the books that shaped my twenties, it’s the End of Nature—Bill McKibben’s point being that we could no longer attribute weird weather to Nature or the gods, because we could no longer be sure the culprit wasn’t us. That was twenty years ago, before the hottest decade ever recorded, which deniers claim shouldn’t concern us because it’s a plateau of heat rather than a straight rising line. (Are none of them bakers? Preheat an oven and place a block of ice in it, then watch what happens when you give it an hour in a plateau of heat.)

I was 32 in 2000, and have always figured that if I see 2050 I’ll be happy. Given what’s in store for us between now and then, I’m no longer so sure about the happy part. I hope my kids have the resilience to cope with it; they’ll be almost my age now when we get there, maybe with kids of their own, and I don’t know what I’d do in that kind of world with those responsibilities—they’re challenging enough in this kind of world.

Meltwater at the North Pole, 25 July 2013
Meltwater at the North Pole, 25 July 2013

There’s too much to say about it all, and I’m not sure that a post on a quiet personal blog is where I want to say it. I’ve contributed to a few relevant threads at Metafilter, but fending off deniers isn’t really what I want to do on these pages. But I can at least share what I’ve collected over this past year, so I can get back to including new ones with my regular posts.

I’ve culled a hundred links to the forty-odd below, ditching most of the ones about the skeptics rather than the science and clustering the rest into related groups. If none of this is news to you, try at least the final two.


The wet side of Greenland (July 2012).
Is there even less Arctic sea ice than the satellites show? (September 2012)
The staggering decline of Arctic sea ice (September 2012).
Arctic sea ice bottoms out at a new record low (September 2012).
Arctic ice melt is running 60 years ahead of 2007 IPCC projections.
Arctic sea ice minimum volumes, 1979-2012.
Scientists link frozen UK spring to dramatic Arctic sea ice loss (March 2013).


Why Antarctic sea ice grows as Arctic melts.
West Antarctic warming faster than previously thought.
Antarctic ice shelves melting from underneath.
Major Antarctic glacier is past its tipping point and melting fast.


Goodbye, glaciers.
“Like watching the Statue of Liberty melt.“
The village that used to sit three metres above sea level.
Australian marine life on the move.
The beneficiaries of ocean acidification.
Climate change, drought and social unrest in Syria.


Before and after Hurricane Sandy.
Hurricane Sandy photos from The Atlantic and The Boston Globe.
How global warming made Hurricane Sandy worse.
New York City’s CO2 emissions, visualized.


Why climate change causes big increases in extreme weather.
The jet stream is becoming wavier.
Bill McKibben on global warming’s terrifying new maths.
Summer of extremes signifies the new normal (September 2012).
The flood next time (December 2012).
This was England (July 2013).

Gas Attacks

Permafrost projections (October 2012).
Methane hydrates and contemporary climate change.
Huge methane belch in Arctic could cost $60 trillion (July 2013).
Professor Peter Wadhams explains the danger of inaction.


Global warming predictions prove accurate.
What 95% certainty of warming means to scientists.
The climate change denial machine is going up to 11 (September 2013).


Exponential economist meets finite physicist.


The lost world at the bottom of the North Sea.

1 October 2013 · Events