A Correction And A Canoe

line chart of sea temperature in north atlantic with 2023 data shown in red
from https://twitter.com/EliotJacobson


The Correction: Wrong Information in a Greenzine article

The June 9, 2023 articleLocal Living Through the Climate Crisis” stated that Earth “had already passed 1.5⁰C.” Globally, as an average, it has not yet passed that mark. The GREENZINE apologizes. In fact, that global average temperature went beyond 1.5⁰C for only 11 days in 2022.

The global temperature would have to exceed 1.5⁰C over consistently longer periods than 11 days in order to break the 1.5⁰C average. (The European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service as reported in the Associated Press News 15/06/23) Whew! We only exceeded the average for eleven days! We can breathe easier now.

Not so fast.

Why? First, because, for a 50% chance of limiting warming to 1.5⁰C, global greenhouse-gas emissions need to start falling a lot before 2025. That’s within 30 months! And countries’ current carbon emissions commitments aren’t enough to keep the planet within that target.

Second, because El Nĩno is coming down the track. This recurring weather pattern will replace the current, cooler La Nĩna pattern with warmer atmosphere temperatures of another half-degree or more. And we all know what Canada’s weather has brought at current temperatures: burning forests and peatlands, Hurricane Fiona, no CO2 reduction, etc.

Oceans are a good place to tell us what’s happening. They take in and trap a lot of heat from CO2, so Earth gets warmer and warmer. So every breath we take is also getting hotter. The North Atlantic alone has a rapidly rising, unprecedented, alarming, absorption rate as the chart here shows.

A recent National Observer article provides us with an astonishing warning coming at us from our oceans: they “have been working overtime, absorbing 90 per cent of global warming. … The equivalent energy of over 25 billion Hiroshima atomic bombs.”

Read that number again.

We are on a “carbon budget.” It’s the amount of carbon dioxide that can be released into the atmosphere while still having a better than 50% chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. That budget has ominously dropped. In 2020, the IPCC calculated the remaining budget at around 500 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide. Less than a year later, the figure was around 250 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide.

Our carbon budget falls because of continued use of fossil fuels, failure to protect biodiversity, non-regenerative agriculture, forest fires, and polar ice melting that puts even more water into the oceans to be warmed.

A Canoeing Metaphor

The fresh waters of our local community created a canoe culture that lives on in the Kawarthas.

Paddlers know that when caught in serious rapids, you pull out all your paddling knowledge, skill and strength. You keep a very close eye on the water and the signs it gives you as it’s shaped by the rocks and the pull of currents. You feel the adrenalin; pay sharp attention to every twist, tug and ”feel” of the water. You make the slightest correction or take the hardest ‘dig’ of your life to avoid tragedy. If you are a pair, you suddenly become a community, trusting one another and calling upon your different roles and skills to get you through. If your children are in the canoe, you call upon the power of your love of them to motivate you to even greater efforts.

This is the climate crisis. Let’s not say “we didn’t know there’d be rapids.”

A Correction And A Canoe © 2023 by Cheryl Lyon in the Greenzine is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

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