Global Climate Change: arriving a century earlier than had been understood before 2005. By 2005, climate scientists were seeing manifestations that said climate change was an actuality that had to be dealt with now.
As a new father, most alarming to me was King's next point: this newly triggered climate change is bound to intensify for the rest of my daughter's life. The inertia of the climate system—that is, the laws of physics and chemistry—guarantee that average global temperatures will keep rising for decades to come, no matter how fervently humanity might embrace solar energy, electric vehicles and other options for reducing emissions. And as temperatures rise, this global warming will unleash still more climate change: deeper droughts, stronger storms, wilder wildfires and so on, as well as faster sea level rise.
"No, no, it's not too late," King hurried to reply when I asked if this paradigm shift means all is lost. But the early arrival of climate change does transform the nature of the problem, as paradigm shifts tend to do. To wit, humanity now faces a double imperative. The traditional goal of climate policy—to reduce global warming—has now become more urgent than ever, for if global temperature rise isn't halted soon, it could gain too much momentum ever to reverse. Yet at the same time, humanity has no choice but "to adapt to the impacts that are in the pipeline" over the coming decades, said King. In short, we have to live through global warming even as we try to reverse it.