It’s been 10 years since Gore’s Inconvenient Truth sounded the alarm on the deadly effects of fossil fuel-induced temperature rise. Currently, the oceans are suffering the longest coral bleaching event ever recorded, which began in 2014.
Fifty per cent of the Great Barrier Reef is dead from two successive heatwaves (2016 & 2017). The oceans, as Gore reminds us, have absorbed 93 per cent of all fossil-fuel energy ever released, or 560 billion tons of carbon dioxide.
Half of that ocean heat, or 150 zettajoules, has accumulated since 1997. That’s the equivalent heat energy of detonating one Hiroshima-style bomb every second for 75 straight years.
Since oceans drive the Earth’s climate, which, among everything else, enables agriculture to currently feed 7.5 billion procreating humans, our planet has a major ocean heat crisis.
Heatwaves are getting hotter and lasting longer everywhere. The Australian continent has been lambasted. Honeybees can’t cope. In 2013, heatwaves inflicted the worst honey season in Victoria in 50 years of record keeping. Temperatures were so high that beeswax melted inside the hives. From 10am to 7pm bees searched exclusively for fresh water to cool off the hives.
The following year, heatwaves contributed to Australia’s lowest honey production. Many native plants responded to prolonged heatwaves by refusing to flower. No flowers, no pollen, no pollination, no nectar, no honey.
It’s not just seas and bees, but also trees that are showing the deleterious effects of rising temperatures from burning climate-altering fossil fuels.
The Amazon jungle – the largest tropical rainforest on the globe – has experienced three, one-in-one-hundred-year drought events since 2005. Droughts and bushfires have decimated billions of daily rain cloud-making, oxygen-creating mature Amazon trees. Across western North America, elevated temperatures have suppressed nature’s ecological cold autumn blanket and consequently unleashed trillions of indigenous bark beetles. The horrifying result: 30 billion mature dead trees.
The Inconvenient Sequel highlights the breathtaking solar revolution. In one hour, the sun bathes Earth with enough energy to power human civilisation for an entire year. All that’s required is harnessing the sun. Gore gives us hope, a glimpse of a zero carbon economy. Now all we need to do is get the job done quickly.
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power opens nationally on August 10.
Dr Reese Halter’s upcoming book is Save Nature Now.
First published: August 2017