The Heat of the Moment

George Monbiot, The Guardian 27 August 2012.

Climate breakdown is right here, right now.


By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 28th August 2012

There are no comparisons to be made. This is not like war or plague or a stockmarket crash. We are ill-equipped, historically and psychologically, to understand it, which is one of the reasons why so many refuse to accept that it is happening.

What we are seeing, here and now, is the transformation of the atmospheric physics of this planet. Three weeks before the likely minimum, the melting of Arctic sea ice has already broken the record set in 2007(1). The daily rate of loss is now 50% higher than it was that year(2). The daily sense of loss – of the world we loved and knew – cannot be quantified so easily.

(Image taken from Arctic Sea-ice Monitor)

The Arctic has been warming roughly twice as quickly as the rest of the northern hemisphere. This is partly because climate breakdown there is self-perpetuating. As the ice melts, for example, exposing the darker sea beneath, heat which would previously have been reflected back into space is absorbed…