In a sense, all responses to the current ecological climate are mad, or at least maddening. Take the threat seriously and risk succumbing to solastalgia, or blot it out and be accused of opting out of reality. In the first case you madden yourself and in the second you madden other people. It can sometimes seem that the only reasonable response is melancholia, anger and helplessness. In the words of Dr Courtney Howard, board president of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment: “The intersection between the climate emergency and mental and physical health will become one of the world’s major issues.”
The colossal geoengineering project would need energy from at least 12,000 wind turbines to power giant seawater pumps and snow cannons, and would destroy a unique natural reserve. The scientists are not advocating for such a project, but said its apparent “absurdity” reflects the extraordinary scale of threat from rising sea level.
“As scientists we feel it is our duty to inform society about every potential option to counter the problems ahead,” said Prof Anders Levermann, at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, who led the research. “As unbelievable as [the proposal] might seem, in order to prevent an unprecedented risk, humankind might have to make an unprecedented effort.”
“Even if we keep the Paris agreement [target of 2C above pre-industrial levels], we will get five metres of sea level rise,” he said. “I think people haven’t really entertained the real consequences of this. Either you abandon these coastal cities or millions of people live by a wall behind which is the world’s oceans, above your head, like the sword of Damocles.”
Record temperatures across much of the world over the past two weeks could make July the hottest month ever measured on Earth, according to climate scientists.
The past fortnight has seen freak heat in the Canadian Arctic, crippling droughts in Chennai and Harare and forest fires that forced thousands of holidaymakers to abandon campsites in southern France and prompted the air force in Indonesia to fly cloud-busting missions in the hope of inducing rain.
If the trends of the first half of this month continue, it will beat the previous record from July 2017 by about 0.025C, according to calculations by Karsten Haustein, a climate scientist at the University of Oxford, and others.
This follows the warmest-ever June, which was confirmed this week by data from the US space agency Nasa, following Europe’s Copernicus satellite monitoring system.