Michael McCarthy: What's so depressing is the inevitability of all this

Share
Related Topics

You might think you've heard it all before, and in a sense you have. There are not huge disparities between the core predictions of how climate change will affect the UK, released by the Government yesterday, and the earlier set of forecasts produced seven years ago. The central estimates of temperature rise by the 2080s, for example, are in the same ballpark.

But there are three important differences. Firstly, the new figures make a much stronger attempt at qualifying one of the key aspects of any predictions, which is uncertainty. For all the forecasts, there are now not only central figures, representing the best guess at what will actually happen, but also upper and lower estimates, which represent extremes with a 10 per cent chance of occurring. This enables risk to be mathematically quantified and is an essential component of future planning to cope with what global warming may bring.

Secondly, for the first time there are regional predictions in quite enormous detail, which will now enable the councillors and officials of Loamshire County Council, and even of Loamchester City Council, to get a feel for exactly what is coming their way in terms of hot, wet and dry – in other words, heatwaves, flooding, water shortages and all the other impacts which climate change is going to bring, and which they have to take into account.

But perhaps the most striking (not to say depressing) aspect of these figures is their new emphasis on inevitability. The temperature rises which are forecast for the 2080s might be avoided if the world makes a titanic effort at cutting carbon emissions, beginning in Copenhagen in December, but, even if we do, the Government now admits that by the 2040s a rise of more than two degrees in average summer temperatures is going to happen anyway.

For years the whole of British and European Union climate policy has been based on halting any temperature rise at the two degrees line. Does this not mean that the official objective is now unattainable? Asked about this yesterday the Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, said: "Let's be frank. It's going to be tough."

Well, what else can he say?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders joins the Latitude 2014 line-up  

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde - please don't tell other victims it was theirs

Holly Baxter
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory