Human kind cannot bear very much reality. That is certainly true when it comes to long-term threats such as climate change. But the temptation to push aside inconvenient truths is not limited to those who say climate change is a myth or a plot invented by the Chinese to undermine the American economy. Some of those who accept the scientific evidence as presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and others also have a strand of denial in their thinking, particularly when it comes to finding answers to the challenge.
The problem is evident in a — beautifully written — essay written by Mathieu Munsch for the website Bright Green. His aim is to lay out the facts about climate change in language that is accessible to non-specialist readers, and he succeeds admirably — his summary is well worth reading. Climate change is an existential threat to human life but there is no certainty about the detailed nature of the changes that could take place or the timing. Mr Munsch very clearly identifies what we know and do not know.
The response to the mounting evidence has been centred around a consensus target of keeping any global temperature increase to less than 2 degrees That is not based on particular scientific evidence — it is a politically driven goal. We not know whether 2 degrees represents safety, and the figure is in any case an average likely to reflect wide variation that could cause great damage in some places.