The Perilous Risks of Ignoring Climate Change

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

Writing for TomDispatch, Dahr Jamail reports on the increasingly high stakes of ignoring the scientific evidence for climate change. Jamail considers the perspectives of climate scientists “just beyond the mainstream” and how they see climate change affecting life on earth.

* Guy McPherson, emeritus professor of evolutionary biology, natural resources, and ecology at University of Arizona, tells Jamail, “We’ve never been on a planet with no Arctic ice, and we will hit the average of 400 ppm… within the next couple of years. At that time, we’ll also see the loss of Arctic ice in the summers… We’ve never been here as a species and the implications are truly dire and profound for our species and the rest of the living planet.”

* Professor Peter Wadhams, a leading Arctic expert at Cambridge University, finds evidence to corroborate McPherson’s fears.  “The fall-off in ice volume is so fast,” according to Wadhams, “it is going to bring us to zero very quickly.” According to current data, he estimates “with 95% confidence” that the Arctic will have completely ice-free summers by 2018.  Jamail notes that U.S. Navy researchers have predicted an ice-free Arctic even earlier, by 2016.

* John Nissen, a British scienist and chairman of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, suggests that if the summer sea ice loss passes “the point of no return,” and “catastrophic Arctic methane feedbacks” kick in, we’ll be in an “instant planetary emergency.”

While McPherson, Wadhams, Nissen and others focus on Arctic methane releases and their implications for future life on earth, in December 2013, a report by18 eminent scientists, including James Hansen, the former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, that concluded: “Continuation of high fossil fuel emissions, given current knowledge of the consequences, would be an act of extraordinary witting intergenerational injustice.”

Predictably, the voices of scientific experts like McPherson, Wadhams, Nissen and the authors of studies like Hansen, et al. do not figure in corporate news coverage of our “extreme weather.”


Dahr Jamail, The Climate Change Scorecard, Tomgram December 17th, 2013,_the_climate_change_scorecard/.

James Hansen et al., “Assessing ‘Dangerous Climate Change’: Required Reduction of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature,” PLOSOne, December 3, 2013,

Student Researchers: Kayla Silva and Cydney Shorkend (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Ervand Peterson (Sonoma State University)