Global Warming

In 2015 the Paris Climate Change Conference decided that the world must take urgent action to ideally contain global warming to plus 1.5 degrees Centigrade (plus 1.5C) and to less than a catastrophic plus 2C. The present warming is about plus 1.1C. However the  World Meteorological Organization (WMO) now reports a 66% probability of 1.5C being exceeded for at least 1 year between  2023 and 2027. Climate catastrophe is now upon us but the World still refuses to act.

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO): “Global temperatures are likely to surge to record levels in the next five years, fuelled by heat-trapping greenhouse gases and a naturally occurring El Niño event, according to a new update issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). There is a 66% likelihood that the annual average near-surface global temperature between 2023 and 2027 will be more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels for at least one year.  There is a 98% likelihood that at least one of the next five years, and the five-year period as a whole, will be the warmest on record” [1, 2].

Indeed the Executive Summary of the detailed WOM Report states: “Latest predictions suggest that: the annual mean global near-surface temperature for each year between 2023 and 2027 is predicted to be between 1.1°C and 1.8°C higher than the average over the years 1850-1900.The chance of global near-surface temperature exceeding 1.5°C above preindustrial levels for at least one year between 2023 and 2027 is more likely than not (66%)” [2].

The WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas: “This report does not mean that we will permanently exceed the 1.5°C level specified in the Paris Agreement which refers to long-term warming over many years. However, WMO is sounding the alarm that we will breach the 1.5°C level on a temporary basis with increasing frequency” [1].

The WMO has previously warned of extreme warming due to record greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution combined with an El Nino period of enhanced warming. After a 3 year La Nina period of relatively lower warming, the world is now facing a new El Nino period of greater  warming and with a 66% probability of 1.5C being exceeded between  2023 and 2027 “for at least 1 year” [1, 2].

In 2020 I published a huge book “Climate Crisis, Climate Genocide & Solutions” in which I proposed partial solutions in about 40 areas [3]. On page 1 of my book I quoted Professor Stephen Hawking’s succinct  summation of the existential threat to the world from nuclear weapons and climate change: “We see great peril if governments and societies do not take action now to render nuclear weapons obsolete and to prevent further climate change” [3, 4]. My concluding  comments at the end of the book (pages 842-843): “At the present plus 1.0-1.2C of warming the World is being savaged by deadly high temperatures and global warming-exacerbated droughts, floods, forest  fires, high energy intensity tropical storms, sea level rise, storm surges, massive ecosystem loss and irreversible Biodiversity loss. A plus 1.5C is inevitable in the coming decade and in the face of remorselessly increasing CO2 and CH4 in the atmosphere one concludes that a catastrophic plus 2C is effectively unavoidable. Nevertheless we are inescapably obliged to do everything we can to make the future “less bad” for our children, our grandchildren and future generations” [3].

However like a deer frozen in the headlights of an oncoming vehicle the World still won’t act in key areas and is hell-bent on making things worse [5, 6]. These ongoing disastrous failures are briefly summarized below.

(1). Atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) levels must decrease hugely but are hugely increasing.

Numerous scientists argue for a return to an atmospheric level of about 300 ppm CO2 (carbon dioxide) for a safe and sustainable planet for all peoples and all species [3, 7-9]. Global atmospheric CO2 increased from 338 ppm (parts per million) in 1980 to 423 ppm in 2023 [10]. Atmospheric CO2 derives from the burning of fossil fuels and other carbon fuels, and contributes about 85% of global warming. The long atmospheric half-life of CO2  means long-term global warming even if there is cessation of CO2 emissions now [3].

Global atmospheric methane (CH4) increased from 1.64 ppm in 1984 to 1.77 ppm in 2000, remained at 1.77 ppm  until  2006 (possibly due to decreased swamp methanogenesis), and has thence increased at an ever-increasing rate to the 1.91 ppm in 2022 [11, 12]. CH4 is a gas, leaks,  and has a global warming potential (GWP) that is 21 times greater than that of same mass of CO2 on a 100 year time frame but which is 105 times greater on a 20 year time frame with aerosol impacts considered [3].  On the latter basis the 50 Gt CH4 set to be released from the warming Arctic in coming decades corresponds to  50  Gt CH4 x 105 Gt CO2-equivalent Gt / Gt CH4 = 5,250 Gt CO2-equivalent  or 9 times more than the terminal CO2 emissions budget left in 2015 for avoiding a catastrophic plus 2C temperature rise [3].

Similarly global atmospheric N2O increased from 0.315 ppm in 2018 to 0.336 ppm in 2022 [13]. N2O derives from oxidation of man-made nitrogenous fertilizers that are used on a huge scale globally. The GWP for N2O is 298 on a 100 year time frame and 289 on a 20 year time frame [3].

(2). GHG pollution must be eliminated but is increasing at record high levels in major areas.

The 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference committed to ideally less than a plus 1.5 degree Centigrade (+1.5C) temperature rise, and to no more than a catastrophic +2C. The  2021 Glasgow Climate Change Conference committed to “net zero emissions by 2050”. However there is no decrease in our record greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution, gas, oil, and coal use, or cattle, cement, steel and iron ore production. We are surely doomed by this remorseless inaction [5].

A dangerous absurdity in the face of catastrophe is the global coal to gas transition. Methane (CH4) is a gas, is 85% of natural gas, leaks, and has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) 105 times that of the same mass of CO2 on a 20 year time frame and with aerosol impacts considered. One can readily calculate (and assuming natural gas to be 100% CH4 or CH4 equivalent) that on this basis a systemic gas leakage of 2.6% would contribute as much global warming as generating the GHG CO2 by burning the remaining  97.4% of the gas. Systemic gas leakage in the US is about 3% and can be much greater at sites of gas extraction. Thus depending  upon the extent of systemic gas leakage, burning gas can be dirtier GHG-wise than burning coal [14-16].

The atmospheric CO2 is increasing as energy sector oil use, gas use and  coal use increase [5]. Further,  the “stabilizing” 450 ppm CO2-e proposed by Anderson and Bows in 2008 [17] has already been exceeded. Thus the 2014 IPCC Report  stated that “About 450 ppm CO2-e [is] likely to limit warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels” [18], but according to Professor  Ron Prinn (Professor of Atmospheric Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology) an atmospheric 478 ppm CO2-e (i.e.  also taking GHGs other than CO2 into account) was already attained by 2013 [19]. Atmospheric CO2 continues to rise, having already reached 420 ppm CO2  [10], and atmospheric methane (CH4) (from methanogenic livestock, land use, systemic natural gas leakage and Arctic tundra  melting ) and nitrous oxide (N2O) (from oxidation of nitrogen fertilizers) are also increasing [11, 13]. Atmospheric CO2, CH4 and N2O levels are presently about 1.4, 2.5 and 1.2 times, respectively, of those in 1800 [20], noting that the relative Global Warming Potential per unit mass  for these GHGs on a 20-year time scale are 1, 86 and about 268, respectively [3], and the present levels in 2023 are 423 ppm CO2, 1.92 ppm CH4 and 0.34 ppm N2O [3].

In view of the increasing atmospheric GHG pollution from CO2, CH4 and N2O at the highest measured rate – and at an increasing rate in all cases – one concludes that exceedance of plus 2C is now effectively unavoidable.

(3). Photosynthetic forest CO2 drawdown  through carbon sequestration must increase but tropical forest destruction is at a record high.

Temperate forests have had a net gain since 1990 [21]. However the bad news is that deforestation overall has levelled out at an appallingly high level of  50 Mha lost per decade in the last 2 decades. The world lost 1.5 billion hectares of forest over the last 300 years (an area 1.5 times that of the US) [21]. The area of Sweden is 53 million hectares, and the area of Thailand is 51 million hectares. Forests represent a major carbon sink but are threatened with becoming net producers of CO2. Associated  with the continued destruction of biodiverse  tropical forests in Latin America, Africa and South East Asia  is a species extinction rate that is now about 100-10,000 times greater than normal [22]. The current rate of species loss varies between 100 and 10,000 times the background extinction rate which is roughly one to five species per year when the entire fossil record is considered. Up to one million plant and animal species are facing extinction due to human activities [22]. This catastrophic biodiversity loss in tropical forests also means the potential  huge loss of plant-derived bioactive chemicals as lead compounds for pharmacological development (see my huge book “Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds. A pharmacological reference guide to sites of action and biological effects” [23]. Every species and ecosystem is irreplaceable and hence priceless.

(4). A damage-related Carbon Price of $200 per tonne CO2-equivalent must be urgently applied but is presently only $2 per tonne CO2-equivalent  globally.

Climate economist Dr Chris Hope (Cambridge University) and eminent climate scientist  Professor James Hansen (of NASA and Columbia University) have independently estimated a damage-related Carbon Price of about US$200 per tonne CO2-equivalent [24, 25]. The key reason for the worsening Climate Crisis is global failure to acknowledge and fully apply a damage-related Carbon Price that is $200 per tonne CO2-equivalent (CO2-e), but which is presently applied globally at a meagre  and disastrous average of only $2 per tonne CO2-equivalent. Thus the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has exposed the massive deceit of the neoliberal denialists in stating that while a damage-related Carbon Tax of US$75 per tonne CO2 would be an effective way of addressing the climate threat, the present global average Carbon Price is only $2 per tonne CO2, a tiny fraction of what is needed for keeping below the plus  2°C catastrophe [26, 27]. I explained this massive and disastrous discrepancy to my grandchildren at a restaurant: the owner brings us a bill for $200 but we say that we will only pay $2. The greedy, neoliberal World is ignoring the  damage-related Carbon Price and a consequent  inescapable global Carbon Debt of $250 trillion increasing at $16 trillion annually. Unlike conventional debt that can be variously evaded by default, running away or printing money, Carbon Debt is inescapable – thus, for example, unless sea walls are built at huge expense, coastal cities, towns and arable land will be devastated [6, 28, 29].

(5). The World is over-populated by a factor  of about  2,  and a 2-fold economic de-growth is required, but the World wants business as usual (BAU). 

Even if per capita GHG pollution remained the same, increasing population would see GHG pollution increase.  Further, while the rich and low birth-rate global North could live more modestly, the impoverished and high birth-rate South needs an increase in per capita income to enable circumstances in which birth rate can be reduced (high female literacy, infant survival and economic security) [30, 31]). UN Population Division projections show that this century  the population of rich Europe will fall  from 742 million (2018) to 653 million (2100) whereas the population of impoverished Africa will explode from 1,274 million (2018) to 4,468 million (2100) [32]. However in terms of relative carbon footprint the per capita  GDP (nominal) is $25,596 for Europe versus $1,753 for Africa (2016), this translating to a total GDP of $19.3 trillion for Europe and $2.2 trillion for Africa [33]. For carbon footprint equality the European population would need to decrease 10-fold or the African per capita income would have to increase 10-fold. However Professor Dabo Guan  (School of International Development, University of East Anglia, UK) (2016) has commented thus on inescapable limits to growth: “For everyone in the world to have an American lifestyle, we would need seven planets, and three to live as Europeans” [34]. Clearly the European population is not declining fast enough and the African population expansion is much too large.

Drastic decrease in population is required for cessation of the present appalling level of ecosystem destruction (ecocide) that is associated with catastrophic species loss (speciescide) and leading to omnicide and terracide.  If we take  World coral  as a “canary in the coal mine” then the 320 ppm CO2 at which coral reefs started to decline was reached in 1965, at which time the world’s population was 3.340 billion as compared to the present 8 billion [31]. One can therefore plausibly suggest that given the present carbon economy the world’s population needs to roughly halve for a safe and sustainable environment for all peoples and all species. Halving the global population would massively contribute to the roughly 2-fold economic de-growth that is required to seriously tackle climate change [17, 31].

Final comments and conclusions.

The World has been given dire warning by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO that global warming between  2023 and 2027 is  “predicted to be between 1.1°C and 1.8°C higher than the average over the years 1850-1900” [2]. Indeed the direst predictions by various scientists is that in the absence of requisite urgent  action about 10 billion people will perish this century in a Climate Genocide en route to a sustainable human population in 2100 of only about 1 billion [3, 35].

The World must act now! Decent humanity must act by (a) informing everyone they can, and  (b) urging and applying Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against all people, politicians, parties, collectives, corporations and countries  disproportionately involved in the climate criminality that is killing our planet.


[1]. World Meteorological Organization (WMO), “Global temperatures set to reach new records in next five years”, 17 May 2023: .

[2]. World Meteorological Organization (WMO), “Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update. Target years: 2023 and 2023-2027”: .

[3]. Gideon Polya, “Climate Crisis, Climate Genocide & Solutions”, Korsgaard Publishing, Germany, 2020.

[4]. Stephen Hawking, “Brief Answers to the Big Questions”, John Murray, UK, 2018.mmm

[5]. Gideon Polya, “Planet Doomed: No Decrease In Record GHGs & Gas, Oil, Coal, Cattle, Cement & Steel Production”, Countercurrents, 16 October 2022: .

[6]. Gideon Polya, “COP27 Ignores Carbon Price, Climate Costs, Carbon Debt, Full Reparations & Global South”, Countercurrents, 13 November  2022: .

[7]. “Nuclear weapons  ban, end poverty & reverse climate change”: .

[8]. . .

[9]. “ – return atmosphere CO2 to 300 ppm CO2”:—return-atmosphere-co2-to-300-ppm .

[10]. US NOAA, “Trends in atmospheric carbon dioxide”: .

[11]. US NOAA, “Trends in atmospheric methane”: .

[12]. “Methane Bomb Threat”:

[13]. US NOAA, “Trends in atmospheric nitrous oxide”: .

[14]. “Gas is not clean energy”: .

[15]. ”Gas is dirty energy”: .

[16]. Gideon Polya, “The lie that gas is “cleaner””, Green Left, 7 October 2020: .

[17].  Kevin Anderson & Alice Bows, “Reframing the climate change challenge in light of post-2000 emission trends”, Proc. Trans. Roy. Soc, A, 2008: ;

[18]. The IPCC, “Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report, Approved Summary for Policy Makers”, 1 November 2014: .

[19]. Ron Prinn, “400 ppm CO2? Add other GHGs and its equivalent to 478 ppm”, Oceans at MIT, 6 June 2013: .

[20]. “Trends in atmospheric concentrations of CO2, CH4 and N2O”,  European Environment Agency, 31 January 2018: .

[21]. Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser, “Deforestation and forest loss”, Our World in Data, 2020: .

[22]. John P. Rafferty, “Biodiversity loss”, Britannica, 21 September 2022: .

[23]. Gideon Polya, “Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds. A pharmacological reference guide to sites of action and biological effects”, Taylor & Francis & CRC Press, 2003.

[24]. Dr Chris Hope, “How high should climate change taxes be?”, Working Paper Series, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, 9.2011:  .

[25]. James Hansen, “Climate change in a nutshell: the gathering storm”, Columbia University, 18 December 2018:  .

[26]. International Monetary Fund (IMF), “Fiscal Monitor: how to mitigate climate change”. Executive Summary”, September  2019: file:///C:/Users/Gideon/AppData/Local/Temp/execsum-6.pdf  .

[27]. Gideon Polya, “Australia Rejects IMF Carbon Tax & Preventing  4 Million  Pollution Deaths By 2030”, Countercurrents, 15 October 2019: .

[28]. Gideon Polya, “Inescapable $200-250 trillion global Carbon Debt increasing by $16 trillion annually”, Countercurrents, 27March 2019: .

[29]. “Carbon Debt Carbon Credit”: .

[30]. Gideon Polya, “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950”, Korsgaard Publishing, Germany, 2021.

[31]. Gideon Polya, “How Much Negative Carbon Emissions, Negative Population Growth & Negative Economic Growth Is Needed To Save Planet?”, Countercurrents, 28 November 2018: .

[32]. UN Population Division, “World Population Prospects 2017” : .

[33]. “List of countries by GDP (nominal) per capita”, Wikipedia: .

[34]. Irene Banos Ruiz , “China’s new love affair with dogs – as pets, not food – presents environmental  problems”, DW, 21 June 2016: .

[35]. “Climate genocide”: .

Dr Gideon Polya taught science students at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia over 4 decades. He published some 130 works in a 5 decade scientific career, notably a huge pharmacological reference text “Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds”. He has also published “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (2007, 2021) and “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History” (1998, 2008, 2023). He has recently published “US-imposed Post-9-11 Muslim Holocaust & Muslim Genocide” (2020), and “Climate Crisis, Climate Genocide & Solutions” (2020), and contributed to Soren Korsgaard (editor) “The Most Dangerous Book Ever Published – Dangerous Deception Exposed!” (2020). For images of Gideon Polya’s huge paintings for the Planet, Peace, Mother and Child see:  .

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