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.

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you'll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

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