back arrowView show

Hothouse Earth

Episode description

A conversation with Astronomer Royal Martin Rees, environmental policy expert Adil Najam, and social and political theorist Ajay Singh Chaudhary.

We’re closer than we knew to falling off the cliff into climate hell – not just in the Florida Panhandle and our Deep South this week. The UN scientists’ brutal assessment is so simple you can’t forget it: if the world doesn’t get its carbon fumes largely out of the sky by 2030, Space-ship Earth will be toast by 2040. It’s in the toaster now. Twenty-two years left for this beautiful blue planet, unless we master the tech of carbon capture, fast. You are supposed to hear that warning like a howling smoke alarm in your kitchen. Oddly enough, Donald Trump doesn’t hear it at all, though the government measure of carbon in the atmosphere is higher, scarier than the UN figures. Question: can we de-carbonize the sky before we de-carbonize our oil, gas and coal economy?

Hurricane Michael (courtesy of NOAA GOES-East satellite)

The UN scientists are trying to scare us about the climate, but first they’re trying to wake us up, in case you slept through Hurricane Michael in Florida this week, the wildfires, the sheared-off glaciers, the crazy weather all the time now. From the steady rise in the Earth’s temperature and its damage, scientists from a hundred nations conclude that the old goal agreed at Paris – to hold the long warming trend under 2 degrees Centigrade – won’t save us. A net warming of 1.5 degrees is enough, they say, to cook our biosphere beyond repair. 2030, 12 years out, is the deadline for a sharp downturn in the measure of carbon in our skies; else 2040 is the point of no return. We are trapped in a hot-house, the UN report spells out – and one bad effect leads to another: melting ice caps, for example, expose open water, those wine-dark seas, which absorb heat that the ice used to reflect away. Capturing carbon will be a technological feat, but tech will not be enough. Planet Earth will still need to redesign land use and energy, transportation and industry, a make-over on a scale with no precedent. “So we must think anew and act anew,” as Lincoln said.

The post Hothouse Earth appeared first on Open Source with Christopher Lydon.

episodes iconMore Episodes

Midterm Scorecard

November 9th, 2018


A conversation with David Bromwich, Jill Lepore, David Bosworth, Briahna Gray, and Mark Blyth.

The political armies, red and blue, both won tough …

Whitey, We Hardly Knew Ye

November 1st, 2018


A conversation with Howie Carr, David Boeri, and Richard Marinick.

Jimmy Bulger, known as Whitey, was a nasty curse on the old Irish urban village of …

Trouble in the House of Saud

October 26th, 2018


A conversation with Stephen Kinzer, Sarah Leah Whitson, Steve Simon, Chas Freeman, and Shireen Al-Adeimi.

Speaking of Saudi Arabia, in the ghastly light of Jamal Kashoggi’s dismemberment: what more do we care to know, …

Behind the “Leonine Gaze” of Frederick Douglass

October 18th, 2018


Historian David Blight on his new biography of Frederick Douglass.

Frederick Douglass, scarred and tormented seeing men made slaves, set the course of his life to show how a slave became a man. In the cadences of the …

Farewell Tour

October 4th, 2018


TDS is the acronym. Trump Derangement Syndrome is the full name: a distaste for Donald Trump so severe that sufferers abandon all logic and reason, …

A Less Perfect Union

September 28th, 2018


“What’s past is prologue,” Shakespeare’s phrase from “The Tempest,” is carved in stone in front of the National Archive in Washington. Ronald Reagan …

Original Sin

September 21st, 2018


The Roman Catholic Church is staring transfixed at a cascading scandal of crime and non-punishment. Sex crimes by priests against children are …

Game, Set, Match!

September 14th, 2018


It’s only a game, we used to say, but this season, between the US Open in tennis and pro-football’s opening games, our wide world of sports is an …

A New Labor Movement

September 7th, 2018


It’s Labor Day week 2018, and “The American Worker” doesn’t fit any single poster shot. Is it the Uber driver – working flex time in the ‘gig’ economy, for a magic dispatcher of taxis around the world? Is it the …

Loading ...

Download the RadioPublic app for
 FREE and never miss an episode.

Get it on Google PlayDownload on the App Store