'Hothouse Earth' Co-Author Says 'People Will Look Back on 2018 as the Year When Climate Reality Hit'

Amid a flurry of “breathless headlines” about warnings in a new study that outlines a possible “Hothouse Earth” scenario, one co-author optimistically expressed his belief that “people will look back on 2018 as the year when climate reality hit.”

In an interview with the Guardian on Friday, Stockholm Resilience Center executive director Johan Rockström declared, “This is the moment when people start to realize that global warming is not a problem for future generations, but for us now.” Rockström’s study has received an “unprecedented” amount of global attention in the past week—270,000 downloads and counting.

“Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the new study, while not conclusive in its findings, warns that humanity may be just 1°C away from creating a series of dynamic feedback loops that could push the world into a climate scenario not seen since the dawn of the Helocene Period, nearly 12,000 years ago,” Common Dreams reported last week.

“This is the moment when people start to realize that global warming is not a problem for future generations, but for us now.”
—Johan Rockström, Stockholm Resilience Center

This domino effect of feedbacks loops, the report explains, would pose “severe risks for health, economies, political stability, and ultimately, the habitability of the planet for humans.” Though such warnings are chilling, the report authors and climate experts pointed out a major takeaway from the study that much reporting on it failed to highlight: that there is still time for humanity to act.

“Yes, the prospect of runaway climate change is terrifying. But this dead world is not our destiny. It’s entirely avoidable,” meteorologist Eric Holthaus wrote for Grist this week. “As the authors of the paper have argued in response to the coverage, implying otherwise is the same as giving up just as the fight gets tough.”

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