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Have we entered a new phase of climate change?

During the past few weeks we all have been witnesses to an alarming number of events that could shake even the most convinced climate-change deniers to their core. From the ocean catching on fire in the Gulf of Mexico, to the horrific floods that affected Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.In just over a week, if all goes as planned, a colossal report on the state of the global climate will emerge from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. What should we be prepared for?

Among the events mentioned in the previous paragraph, in an article published by the Financial Times, it is reported that “in the past four weeks alone, wildfires virtually burnt a Canadian village off the map after it shattered the national record with heat of 49.6C.Terrified Chinese subway passengers stood in chest-high water as nearly a year’s worth of rain fell in three days”.

“Much of this was predicted. Scientists have warned for years that a warming climate will lead to more weather extremes. Yet the frequency and severity of these events raise unsettling questions: could we be entering a period of non-linear climate change, where temperatures and extreme events do not increase smoothly as expected but instead come suddenly, more often and perhaps more powerfully? And if we are, how would we know?”

According to the article in the Financial Times, it appears that scientists are divided and cannot come to a concrete decision upon whether or not the severity and frequency of these events is directly linked to the deterioration of climate change. Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, a climate researcher at the Dutch national weather service, says the record North American heat has “shaken the confidence of a lot of climate researchers”. “It means that the assumption that we had about how heat waves react to a gradual increase in global warming may not be correct,” he says.

There is much talk of sustainability, often in the form of greenwashing, but whom does it serve? How do we create structural change that can serve the many instead of the few? In 2020 we dedicated our yearly IMPAKT Festival to these themes and questions. You can check out our IMPAKT festival 2020 archive for  panels, lectures, performances, film screenings and an exhibition reflecting on issues of sustainability and the extractive nature of our current system. With o.a.: Douglas Rushkoff, Julia Watson, Sonia Shah, Franco “Bifo” Beradi, Jasper Griepink, Pinar Yoldas, Monira Al Qadiri, The Otolith Group, and many more….


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