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Deeply Troubling: New Projections Suggest That Climate Change Could Continue Well Into Next Year

We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but some discouraging research has us worried that an ongoing crisis will be with us for much, much longer than we’d like: New projections suggest that climate change could continue well into next year.

Ugh, we were really hoping the earth’s mounting uninhabitability would have reversed course by then.

The catastrophic fires, flooding, and other weather extremes resulting from human use of fossil fuels have already more than overstayed their welcome, but according to an ominous study released by Stanford University today, there may be a very real chance we won’t see a return to normal climate conditions until the back half of 2024. This certainly isn’t the news anyone wanted to hear—we’re all anxious for atmospheric CO2 concentrations to get back to pre-industrial levels ASAP, and the prospect of another several months getting battered by city-deleting storm systems and choking on toxic plumes of orange haze is daunting to say the least. But however much we’d like to just put the consequences of unchecked greenhouse gas emissions behind us and get on with life, the climate has other plans, and new research suggests that we’re probably going to have to grit our teeth and power through a couple more mass die-offs of marine life and region-destabilizing crop failures before we’re safely on the other side of this thing.

“It’s definitely going to be at least another grim winter feeling the ravages of record-setting weather aberrations, and potentially spring and summer too, if we’re unlucky,” said Dr. Clement Stackel, the lead researcher behind the projections, adding that he’d privately advised relatives to hold off on visiting coastal regions, forests, or the American Southwest until the cascading disasters of anthropogenic global warming have largely cleared up. “I think a lot of people feel exhausted, like ‘I’ve sweat through 80 degree nights, I’ve seen fish rotting in stagnant puddles that were once deep lakes, I’ve held my child’s hand in helpless terror during their smoke-induced asthma attacks—I’m ready for this climate change thing to be done now.’ And I get that! I am too. But if the data say climate change might stick around for another year, we have to make peace with that possibility and not throw out those wildfire evacuation go-bags just yet.”

So much for getting back to pre-industrial temperature averages in time for Christmas.

As dismaying as this news is, it makes you appreciate just how good it’s going to feel when we finally reach the finish line with climate change and can ease back into our old routines of planting water-intensive crops in the middle of vast deserts and pursuing infinite economic growth at all costs. Sure, it’ll take another couple years for sea ice to fully bounce back, and another couple years after that to recover the biodiversity we lost, but someday soon all this social and ecological collapse will be nothing but a bad memory. It just might take a little longer to get there than we thought.

Well, another year of climate change would definitely suck, but sometimes you’ve got to play the hand you’re dealt. Here’s hoping these projections end up being wrong and a return to normalcy is just around the corner!