In the lead-up to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro (Rio+20), Gwynne Dyer discuss the risk that human activity will lead to run away climate change; the type of rapid change that we will be unable to curb or control. As evidence, he points to a variety of scientific studies of mass extinction events in the last 500 million years. These studies indicate that, with an increase of approximately 2 degrees C, the oceans will begin to acidify and we will lose the ability to stop warming through reducing our carbon emissions. The resulting climactic havoc, which has occurred five times in the last 500 million years already, will likely wipe out more than 50 percent of the world’s species.
Despite evidence from these past events and the doomsday projections of scientists, he notes that most people are not particularly concerned about climate change. We talk about it, but we have not made a real effort to change our consumption patterns and reduce our carbon emissions. Dyer’s underlying message is that we had better start.