This is why we talk of extinction – A slideshow precis/analysis for-the-busy of the latest UN IPCC report

UN scientists this week reviewed the impacts of observed and predicted global heating on land, plus adaptation and mitigation response options. This is a vital report, with many life-or-death messages for governments at the climate negotiations, and indeed everyone who worries about the existential threat global heating and climate chaos pose for civilisation and the natural world. I have prepared a slideshow precis / analysis of the the first part of the report, on impacts. In it, I try to make the urgent messages clear, but also the pulled punches that are inevitable in a report written by a huge committee, and subject to bad-actor lobbying. I will cover the policy piece in a later presentation.

Those who would like the original powerpoint, with source urls as notes, can find it – with all my other source files, for free use – in .


  1. Politicians have never understood science and why they never understand the impact of climate change. most of them are lawyers by profession knowing how to say the right things, but not having a clue how to fix the problem. In a great deal of respects they are useless at solving humanity’s problems and always will be because they do not think like scientists or engineers et al and that is a great deficit for the future existence of humankind and the main reason why the human existence may not survive long. It will not be a nuclear global war that will destroy human life, but the none decision-making of our political leaders and where the irony is that human grow in numbers with ultimately be literally the death of us. Seaborg and Karle our first and second Foundation presidents respectfully saw this fact clearly and where they were should know, as they with others, were highly instrumental in building ‘The Bomb’. So the greater threat is humans themselves ruled by politicians who literally have not a clue.

    COP 21 (Climate Change Agreement) – Welcome to ‘Planet Hell’ in a Mere Generation –

    Dr David Hill
    CEO, World Innovation Foundation

  2. Jeremy,
    Many thanks for another great and appropriately illustrated and well-referenced presentation.
    Its very appropriate to revisit Jeremy Grantham’s original work at this time. I could not access this on the url you give. But did eventually find it through.

    Couple of minor questions
    Slide 32 – Is your SL rise an underestimate? You certainly know this already, but it may help in clarity of explanation. I thought that 7 metres of sea level rise is already baked-in but still slowly overcoming the hysteresis of earth reaction, at the current CO2 level, by analogy with 115kyr ago end-Eeemian interglacial “events late in the prior interglacial, when sea level rose to +6–9 m with evidence of extreme storms while Earth was less than 1 °C warmer than today” . So do you mean an additional 7 metres – just from Greenland melt. And its also worth noting that SL rise from ice to sea transfer is instant, like dropping the ice cube into your drink. Which gives humans very little time to react by building ever-higher sea walls.
    And which if combined with Antarctic land ice melt will eventually raise sea level by 100 metres or more (my analogy with Late Cretaceous sea level) – but see your slide 47 for a lesser amount (which is maybe just that part of Antarctica). For me, this low measure of likely sea level rise is another example of politically pulled IPCC mild language which persists year after year.

  3. Hi Jeremy,
    This image above of the fossilised mobile phone is powerful and one I made a whole installation about in starting in 2010. I will be displaying this installation alongside three other installation on the theme of the ecological disaster at the end of September in London. I hope you will come and see this.


  4. In the studies of insect population over time, how large an area was studied? How many areas, such as tropic, sub-tropic, temperate, near arctic, and near antarctic zones were monitored? What safeguards were in place to ensure that the results were not just results for the particular geographical location where the study was done and that the results were not artificially influenced by a local growth in industry and localized farming methods? In other words, was/were the study/studies done in an area or areas that were remote and least affected by urbanization, industry, and/or local reduction in insect habitat?

    Just a study done on the campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic University does not indicate a real-world proliferation or decline in flying, pollinating insects; nor does it by any means indicate any general, worldwide “extinction” of flying pollinating insects. It only shows a trend for the immediate area, which could be caused by a number of scenarios. An insect reduction in a single area over a period of time does not, by any stretch of the imagination, indicate that it is a worldwide phenomenon, only that the insect population on the Rensselaer Polytechnic University campus has declined, probably due to the use of insecticide by the university’s grounds maintenance department.

    This is typical of some of the other data used in this piece to illustrate a doomsday scenario where none may exist.

    A little bit of documentation would really be helpful, such as the actual extent of the studies in terms of how many areas were studied, for how long, and how do they compare with geological and weather data from other areas of the world for similar lengths of time?

    Also, less than 1/2° F or 1/2° C variation in the permafrost temperature does not a doomsday scenario make. Seasonal temperature changes have varied more than that every year for as long as there have been seasons; and not every year was the same, nor should it be.

    As for methane, plants and animals have been producing and releasing methane into the atmosphere, along with other things, for millennia, with no disastrous results. Animals eating plant-based diets, and decomposing organic matter are going to produce methane. They are natural processes working exactly as they were designed to work.

    Deforestation of the rainforests for farming instead of using sustainable farming methods have more to do with climate change than any single cause. Replant the forests–in ALL temperature zones–and you will alleviate a lot of what has occurred with the increase in greenhouse gases and moisture content.

    So, back to my original question: In the studies of insect population over time, how large an area was studied, and where is the area of study located?

  5. Jeremy: I would like to discuss mitigation in person or by phone. In 1974, I was tasked with analyzing the risks to a multi-national industrial over the ensuing 25 years, and concluded in 1975 that climate change, driven by population growth, was an existential threat. Over the next 40+ years, I formed and ran companies seeking to profitably reduce CO2 and equivalent emissions, raising capital and investing about $2.0 billion in combined heat and power projects with a collective annual reduction of 6,500,000 tons CO2 equivalent per year (about 90 minutes of anthropomorphic global emissions). Customers save about $500 million per year and investors earned market returns. I have been on the Climate Institute board for 25 years.
    Point of conversation is to share thoughts on role biochar might play in sequestering carbon while producing many benefits to soil and farming. The young industry claims biochar additions to tilled soil pay for themselves three times in the first year and the half life of the recalcitrant carbon in biochar is estimated at 500 to 1000 years. No silver bullets exist but this could be a significant and profitable way to slow warming. Please let me know when we might chat and send your coordinates.

  6. Further to my previous comment I would reinforce the situation, but where this is to do with human population, only intimating a global reduction by consent in a letter that media would not publish.

    Unrelenting population growth is ironically the greatest threat to human existence – The letter from Sourpuss ‘Population is Emergency’ was absolutely spot on (3 Aug. 19) and where all global political leaders have not taken population growth seriously enough by far to do anything about it, but it is the most important area of global unsustainability that the world faces, leading to famine, out-of-control global pandemics and ultimately global war. Our late 2nd Foundation President Nobel laureate Jerome Karle and the former US Navy’s top scientist/Pentagon senior adviser in Washington spoke most of his life on this most crucial of matters. Indeed in 2003 he was the guest-of-honour and chief keynote speaker at the World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO) in Tunisia where his major conference speech to the world’s top engineers again spoke powerfully about the need for the world to realise the dangers ahead for humankind with uncontrolled human population growth. Did any of the world’s politicians take note, not a single one and where our political leaders to this day have not consider that this was the fundamental road for humanity’s eventual end game due to what consequences it will ultimately produce. In this respect also the Foundation’s 1st President the late Nobel Laureate Glenn Seaborg (Element 106 Seaborgium) who worked with Jerome also as a colleague on the Manhattan Project as major developers of ‘the bomb’, both agreed that unrestrained human population growth was ironically a far greater threat than nuclear weapons, as human growth was unrelenting and constantly marching to the edge of the precipice towards the inherent destructive force of its own making. That was unlike nuclear weapons that they had created to stop the Nazis getting their hands on them first and where the German’s leading nuclear scientists according to history, were very close in doing so nearing the end of WW2 and which if had been the case, would have stopped D-Day ever happening. For they both knew that the concept of ‘Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD)’ made even fanatical political leaders think twice, as even they themselves would be wiped out in the process and where not even senior politicians are that psychopathic to do that due to one of their main traits of self preservation above all. Therefore unrestrained human growth is paradoxically the greatest ultimate threat to human existence and where again it has to be asked, are there any politicians out there listening ?

  7. The Problem is ecological illiteracy and political elites policy “suggestion” of keeping it that way so the flow of money, converting life into money, continues. The ecologically literate saw all of this 50 years ago and are still ignored or belittled as “doomers.”

    Action taken 50 years ago would have removed the need for the “doom” of mentioning extinction due to human population overshoot taking over 70% of the planet’s surface area, driving the extinction of other species. The loss of biodiversity as a result of that extinction renders the life system increasingly brittle, subject to “sudden” collapse.

    All of these things in this excellent presentation are results of an overshot human population, ecologically illiterate, continuing to screw things up trying to monetize nature. Participating in the money economy, a false consciousness without a basis in ecological process that, combined with OHP, got us here in ~ 400 years.

    A peaceful solution that continues life on Earth does not seem imminent to me.

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