From The Sunday Times
March 11, 2007
To the end of the earth
This is our future - famous cities are submerged, a third of the world is desert, the rest struggling for food and fresh water. Richard Girling investigates the reality behind the science of climate change
Mark Lynas rummages through his filing cabinet like a badger raking out his bedstraw, much of the stuff so crumpled that he might have been sleeping on it for years. Eventually he finds what he is looking for - four sheets of printed paper, stapled with a page of notes.
It is an article, dated November 2000, which he has clipped from the scientific journal Nature: "Acceleration of global warming due to carbon-cycle feedbacks in a coupled climate model". Even when they are mapping a short cut to Armageddon, scientists do not go in for red-top words like "crisis". If you speak the language, however, you get the message - and the message, delivered by the UK Met Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Change, was cataclysmic.
"There should have been panic on the streets," says Lynas in his new book, Six Degrees, "people shouting from the rooftops, statements to parliament and 24-hour news coverage."
In layman's language, Hadley's message was that newly discovered "positive feedbacks" would make nonsense of accepted global-warming estimates. It would not be a gradual, linear increase with nature slowly succumbing to human attrition. Nature itself was about to turn nasty. Instead of absorbing and retaining greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, the figures suggested, it would suddenly spew them out again - billions of years' worth of carbon and methane, incontinently released in blazing surges that would drown or incinerate whole cities. Ice would melt in torrents, and the Earth's essential green lung, the Amazon rainforest, could be moribund as early as 2050. A vicious spiral would have begun which would threaten not just our way of life but the very existence of our own and every other species on Earth. Lynas's notes, still fixed to the report, have the dour humour of the gallows: "The end of the world is nigh, and it's already been published in Nature."
Read the rest of the article folks - very, very carefully. Time to riot.