Smoke from wildfires turned the sky orange over San Francisco.Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

As I was writing yesterday’s blog, I went on a search for the latest information about carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere, global temperatures and fires. I wan’t able to find what I was looking for, but today (sadly) the universe came through.

The Globe and Mail reports “

Concentrations of green house gases in the Earth’s atmosphere hit a record high this year, a United Nations report showed on Wednesday , as an economic slowdown amid the coronavirus pandemic had little lasting effect.

Concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases hit record despite lockdowns: UN report

The consequences of our failure to get to grips with the climate emergency are everywhere. Whether we are tackling a pandemic or climate crisis, it is clear that we need science, solidarity and decisive solutions.

UN Secretary – General Antonio Guterres, Concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases hit record despite lockdowns: UN report

Carbon levels in July hit 414.38 parts per million, compared to 411.74 a year previously and in significant contrast to safe levels identified by scientists at 350 ppm, which we passed in 1988.

Temperates have risen 1.1 degrees above preindustrial levels. Any temperature rise above 1.5 – 2 degrees “will have worse effects across the world, droughts, strong storms, and extreme sea level rise.” Lack of fresh water and flooding will affect the most vulnerable first.

We are really only adapted and able to deal with a very small range of possible weather. Even if this is just perturbed a little bit , we come very quickly to the edges of what we as societies can deal with.

Friederike Otto, University of Oxford., Concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases hit record despite lockdowns: UN report

In The New York Times Morning Briefing post, David Leonhardt provided a guide to the fires in the US including fires in California, Washington State, Oregon and Colorado. The piece is introduced with the dramatic photo above taken in San Francisco. I was on a call yesterday with American cohousing colleagues, many of whom were feeling the effects of the post apocalyptic sky and the accompanying terrible air quality.

How does one be with this kind of information?

How does one let this be true without discounting it, moving swiftly to some Polly Anna place, dashing for distraction or curling up on the couch in a fetal position?! A good question . . . maybe one of the most important questions of our time. And one we will circle back to in this blog.

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