Copenhagen Names it Like It Is

(A reminder first that climate change posts are now also going up at

As we have struggled on this blog with the challenge of naming looming Armageddon without terrifying people into paralysis, UK press coverage of climate change seems to have crossed a tipping point this week.

As George Monbiot rightly argues today, it’s time we stopped using the gentle term climate change for something that will be much, much more terrifying. Climate catastrophe? Climate breakdown?

Today, Friday the 13th, Lord Stern of the once cautious Stern report is quoted from the Copenhagen as warning that billions may (may!) become refugees as the whole areas of the planet become inhabitable.

The politicians, Stern says, just don’t yet realise how serious this is – and 2500 scientists behind him join in the desperate, watershed call for a change in political understanding of the threat that faces us.

The Economist this week warns that sea levels are rising twice as fast as predicted – that is, as predicted in the fatally flawed lowest-common-denominator 2007 IPCC report. And we also hear from Copenhagen that the rain forests are already seriously compromised even if emissions stop immediately. Which of course they won’t.

Prince Charles in Brazil also warns that at this “defining moment” in world history we have less than 100 months to stop the slide to catastrophe.

Bjorn Lomborg, leading climate change sceptic and a majorforce in recent years behind the Western media’s presentation of a supposedly objective balance of views, argues today, at the same time, that global warming will also save lives. So there’s still a way to go.

But, Mary-Jayne, Viola and friends, our fears about naming the unnamable are increasingly, I think, misplaced. The collective unconscious is becoming rapidly conscious, and the tipping point to global alarm which I (and many others of course) have foreseen could now be rapidly approaching.

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