If we create a culture that promotes well-being and prosperity for all,
then we will be in a position to discover who we really are.
                                                 Martin Seligman

In Charles Dickens’A Christmas Carol Ebenezer Scrooge is horrified by the vision of the future that the ghost of Christmas Future presents to him.

I have just been horrified (and spurred to even more action) by a set of maps of the effects of climate change on different cities and regions of the world as we look to the future. The lead author of the study, Dr Camilo Mora of the University of Hawaii, introduces the term ‘climate departure’.

Climate departure is when the lowest temperature for a given month will be higher than any temperatures we have experienced over the last 150 years.

Perhaps an example will make this clear.

In Australia in February 2009 we had the ‘Black Saturday’ catastrophic bushfires. The town of Marysville was almost completely burned out, and people died.

A week before the fires, an exceptional heat wave affected southeastern Australia. From 28–30 January, Melbourne broke records by sweltering through three consecutive days above 43 °C, with the temperature peaking at 45.1 °C on 30 January, the third hottest day in the city's history.

Friends in Melbourne reported that even with the air conditioner on the heat was so intense that candles melted.

Again, climate departure is when the lowest temperature for a given month will be higher than any temperatures we have experienced over the last 150 years. In other words, the lowest temperature during February in Melbourne will be higher than 45°. Melbourne is predicted to reach this point about 2042. After then the whole month of February will have temperatures over 45°... and from there on out it gets even worse as global temperatures continue to rise.

The data points on the map below open up to a little chart that shows the year when that point will which climate departure. Each chart looks like this:

For Sydney, where I live, the year of climate departure is about 2042. Before then, as temperatures rise, I expect that we will have devastating forest fires across the Blue Mountains and surrounding national parks.

Here is a screenshot of Mora's map:


This map is interactive. You can click on any of the points. Here is the URL: http://www.soc.hawaii.edu/mora/PublicationsCopyRighted/Data.html. This URL provides explanatory text, and gives access to 38 additional models, including one on ocean acidification.




I find this a compelling way to present the urgency of dealing with global warming.

Climate change is a systems problem

Climate change is a systems problem. Avoiding the worst of climate change requires massive thoughtful public commitment to turning things around.

If this is true, then there is no activity is more important than communicating to enable friends, colleagues and decision-makers to grasp why we need large-scale systemic change and how we can accomplish it. The Toolkit on this website has a well worked out set of ready-to-use communication tools for this. It even has sample emails.

All of us are busy, and each of us is doing worthy things. Nevertheless, I urge you to devote a portion of your efforts to communicating about whole system change to your networks.

Why do I ask this? Because I truly believe that only by masses of us communicating to affect mainstream consciousness can we actually shift direction sufficiently. Our incremental activities are far from sufficient. Together (although acting as independent agent), we can become a far more powerful force for constructive change than we ever imagined.