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Updating My Munich Predictions

The countries of the former Soviet empire, eager to assert their independence, eagerly await defeat of the Russian army in Ukraine. At that point, Vladimir Putin’s dream of a renewed Russian empire will disintegrate and cease to pose a threat to Europe, and the world will be able to focus on its biggest problem: climate change.

LONDON – It is exactly one month ago that I gave a speech on the eve of the Munich Security Conference. Since then, so many remarkable things have happened – and have happened so fast – that it is worth comparing my predictions of a month ago with actual developments.

The biggest changes have occurred in the global climate system. By this, I mean actual climate events and climate scientists’ understanding of those events. The main message I wanted to convey in Munich was that the global climate system is greatly dependent on what happens within the Arctic Circle. The Arctic Circle climate system used to be separate from the global climate system. Winds used to blow in a predictable counterclockwise direction; but, because of increased human interference, the separation between the Arctic climate system and the global climate system no longer prevails.

Indeed, cold air now leaks from the Arctic Circle and is replaced by warm air sucked up from outside. Consequently, the Arctic Circle has warmed up four times faster than the rest of the world over the last four decades, and the rate of warming is dangerously accelerating. Since my speech, temperatures in the Arctic Circle have soared over 20º Celsius above normal, setting records and intensifying concerns about the rate at which the Greenland ice sheet is melting.