The Science Advisory Committee published a report in 1965, titled Restoring the Quality of Our Environment, for American president Lyndon B Johnson. It warned of the “possible effects of an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide”, including melting of the Antarctic ice sheet, rise of sea level, warming of sea water and increased acidity of fresh waters.
We need not imagine the parallel world where these concerns were not comprehensively dealt with, because we are living in it. The environmental catastrophe they envisaged is now slowly unfolding around us.
Each day seems to bring new alarm. NASA reports that Antarctic glaciers are “waking up” and dramatically losing ice. The 2018 Arctic Report Card notes “unparalleled warmth” in the Arctic. Recent research published in Nature has suggested climate change is intensifying the rainfall in hurricanes, predicting this is just the beginning. Studies across the world have demonstrated the catastrophic impact of human activity on insect ecosystems with numbers plummeting, endangering the food chain. There are indications forest and bushfires, blazing from Alaska to Australia, are increasing due to climate change.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) explored the likely global warming of 1.5 degrees, its effects and how it might be mitigated. But it warned that, without urgent change, the impact is likely to be far greater. Meanwhile the Emissions Gap Report 2018 has suggested we are already 10 years behind the targets set out in the Paris Agreement just three years earlier.
The dirges of doomsayers offer little in terms of design inspiration