2018 Was a Pretty Good Year For Climate Change

Does this look scary to you? It should. But to most people, it's just another confusing chart showing something or other that they don't really get.NASA

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.

Scottish science-fiction author Charlie Stross says 2018 was a truly godawful year:

I am looking for any silver linings to 2018 and coming up blank.

Oddly enough, there was a silver lining, and it comes just a few sentences earlier in his own post:

2018 was the year that the global climate change alarm sirens began to sound continuously, with wildfires and heat emergencies and melting icecaps.

Granted, this is not your typical good news, like malaria is nearly eradicated or Scott Pruitt got kicked out of the EPA. And yet, given the nature of the problem, the only way the public was ever going to take climate change seriously was to be hit in the face with it. Careful models showing temperature increases of 0.06 °C per year were never going to have any impact. Predictions of dire effects in 2100 were never going to have any impact. Famines in the Sahel were never going to have an impact. Floods in Bangladesh were never going to have an impact. Announcements of seven new extinct species of rain forest beetle were never going to have an impact.

Do I sound like I have a low opinion of the human species? Oh hell yes. The only thing that was ever likely to force people to take climate change seriously was continuous sirens—big, bright, loud continuous sirens. Frankly, I’d be pretty happy if a tsunami destroyed the White House, just like in the movies. Or maybe a heat wave killed a hundred thousand people in Paris. With apologies to Washington DC and Paris, this is what it’s going to take to get the panicked level of attention we need: something big, something clearly climate related, and something that kills a lot of white people.

So 2018 was a good year for climate change, and we need more like it: bad enough to get people’s attention before the really bad stuff starts.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate