"For people, for other species, for the ecosystems, for the world we live in, we've entered the Age of Loss and Damage, but we're just at the start. What we are seeing already just makes you want to cry," said Dr. Christopher Trisos (BBC Interview / MP3 Format) from the University of Cape Town. "We can't eliminate loss and damage. It is here. That said, there is a lot we can do to limit it."
The 20th-century surface temperature average for Earth was 13.9℃.
In the first weeks of July of 2023, the average temperature was 17℃.
Q: Is it possible for humans to survive at temperatures greater than 3℃?
A: Probably not long. Humans have never done it before.
September 6, 2023: "Climate breakdown has begun," the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the world after the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported the world endure its hottest Northern Hemisphere summer in human history. "The dog days of summer are not just barking, they are biting," the UN chief said in a statement after the report's release.
"What we are observing, are not only new extremes but the persistence of these record-breaking conditions, and the impacts these have on both people and planet, are a clear consequence of the warming of the climate system," C3S's Climate Change Service Director Carlo Buontempo said.
Climate Breakdown is the most concerning development. Climate breakdown happens when feedback loops are created and tipping points are crossed. Plants will become extinct and many carbon sinks will vanish. The Earth's temperature will continue to accelerate at an exponential rate no matter what humans do. Food, fresh water, and breathable air will cease to exist. Humans will likely follow in short order.
In October of 2023, the European Space Agency's Copernicus Climate Change Service calculated that the average temperature for September was 16.38 degrees Celsius (61.48 degrees Fahrenheit) breaking the previous record set in September 2020 by a half-degree Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit). This is the largest increase in a monthly record high ever.
"It's just mind-blowing really," said Copernicus Director Carlo Buontempo. "Never seen anything like that in any month in our records."
"This is not a fancy weather statistic. It's a death sentence for people and ecosystems. It destroys assets, infrastructure, harvest," Imperial College of London climate scientist Friederike Otto said.
On November 20, 2023, the UN's Emission Gap Report found even if countries carried out their current emissions-reduction pledges, the world would likely continuously exceed +3C degrees of warming this century. Later that day, the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative released State of the Cryosphere Report 2023 saying, "Two degrees is too high. Our message -- the message of the Cryosphere -- is that this insanity cannot and must not continue. The melting point of ice pays no attention to rhetoric, only to our actions."
The Age of Loss and Damage is a new way of thinking about economics by combining economics, climate science, statistics, and physics. Until now, economic models have been unfit to capture the full extent of climate damage. Traditionally, "integrated assessment models" (IAMs) were used to forecast "shock" events. IAMs use "quadratic function" to calculate GDP losses by squaring the temperature change, yet ignore other methods (such as the exponential function) that are better suited for rapid change. "Climate change is fundamentally different to other shocks because once it has hit, it doesn't go away," said Thierry Philipponnat, author of a report by Finance Watch, a Brussels-based public interest NGO on financial issues. "And if the fundamental assumption is flawed, all the rest makes little sense -- if any."
Reuters reported, "Critics say this (IAMs) choice is doomed to underplay the likely impact - particularly if the planet hits environmental tipping points in which damage is not only irreversible but happens at an ever-accelerating rate." Thierry Philipponnat's report, Finance in a Hot House World, concludes: "Climate risk is growing to disruptive levels throughout the financial system and the guardians of financial stability urgently need to adapt their tools to regain control." The report calls for economic models that do not mislead, scenario analyses that prepare the market, and a new prudential tool to address the build-up of systemic climate risk.
Traditional economics is based upon the "costs and benefits" to society. Since there are no known long-term benefits of climate change to society, the Age of Loss and Damage economics focuses on the exponential costs of climate change to society.
Health and Wellness
Humans will experience greater loss and damage to life and quality of life from air pollution, decreasing supply of potable water, extreme weather events, and disease. The greatest short term climate change risk to human health is deadly humid heat (wet-bulb temperature).
Almost all survivors of climate-related disasters suffer from mental distress. Of those who have not experienced climate disasters, more than two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) have reported climate change anxiety.
Real Estate and Infrastructure
A warmer world will present widespread challenges across many aspects of food-energy-water security and economic development. Infrastructure including roads, bridges, sewer and water plants will become unsustainable. Personal property will suffer loss and damage as homeowners and flood insurance become increasingly difficult to obtain.
In October of 2023 Dr. Sidd Mukherjee said, "Now I am thinking the violent rain will be a bigger problem before we die... still thinking it through. In the long run, yes, sea level rise will hit big. If you look at the history, it is episodic, and in the fast bits it can go up 3 feet every twenty years for five hundred years. But, the rain intensity is increasing faster today, and drainage cannot cope, whether in the city or out, culverts and such put in over the last hundred years cannot handle. So, I am paying a lot of attention to terrain and drainage far inland from the seacoast (like Ohio.) By drainage I don't mean just human built. I mean that the natural streams and gullies and ravines have not evolved to a state that can handle the water volumes we see and the worse, larger volumes we will see. So expect huger erosion, steeper slopes to waterways, land collapses and such. Build out your drainage."
In the spring of 2023, the USA suspended their national debt ceiling. Included in the debt ceiling suspension is a provision for unlimited emergency federal spending. The result is the government can continue to ignore the causes of climate change and instead give trillion-dollar subsidies to the fossil fuel industry through emergency disaster relief. Yes, another vicious circle -- more fossil fuels subsidies result in more climate catastrophes resulting in more fossil fuel subsidies, etc. The end result will be additional trillions in government borrowing while the standard of living declines.
According to NOAA, in 2023 (as of November 8), there have been 25 confirmed weather/climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each to affect United States. These events included 1 drought event, 2 flooding events, 19 severe storm events, 1 tropical cyclone event, 1 wildfire event, and 1 winter storm event. This is the largest number of climate disasters recorded with a notable increase in extreme precipitation events (violent rain).
What will create the change needed? Loss and damage litigation against oil companies and governments will change world economics.
The oil industry is going to be like the tobacco industry. The consumers are going to claim they were misled about the dangers of burning fossil fuels and will file lawsuits against the oil companies. You will not be able to buy oil or get insurance at a reasonable price (similar to what happened to cigarette smokers.)
Children have filed lawsuits worldwide against their governments over their basic human rights. A district court judge ruled in Held v. Montana that Montana's Environmental Policy Act, which prohibits the state from considering the climate impact of proposed energy projects, violates the "right to a clean and healthful environment" promised by the state's constitution.
Triggering tipping points results in the CO2 stored in nature to be released without the assistance of humans. Though we do not know how much carbon is stored in nature, it would be reasonable to assume that the temperature could be pushed from 3 degrees to 6 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Humans cannot thrive above a rise of 1.5 degrees. Much of the Earth will be uninhabitable if the temperature rises an additional 6 degrees Celsius. If humans also add 3 degrees Celsius, the temperature and humidity will approach a wet-bulb temperature that will not sustain human life. In any event, there will be exponential loss and damage.
For the first time in human history, global warming is going to continue no matter what humans do. Even if humans stopped their greenhouse gas emissions today, humans have invoked nature's greenhouse gas emissions. Nevertheless, the sooner humans stop their emissions, the better. In addition, humans must adapt their habitat to remove, reduce, and hinder nature's greenhouse gas emissions.
Welcome to the Age of Loss and Damage.
What Can I Do?
There are plenty of things you can do to help save the planet. Stop using fossil fuels. Consume less. Love more. Here is a list of additional actions you can take.
Climate Change: Rate of Acceleration
Climate Change: How Long Is "Ever"?