It wasn't 2012 that determined the future of our species, but 2000 when Al Gore lost to George Bush in the presidential election. That single event helped seal our fate as a species in decline and possibly one to face extinction.
Call it hopeful, but Gore would have advocated for greater research investment on climate change. He would have invaded Afghanistan, yes, following 9/11 (which would have also happened) but he would have followed that with infrastructure investments that invested back into our country and our science, which could have built our future economy. I believe he would have made a negative into a positive.
No Cap Makes a Hot Planet
But alas, that didn't happen and Bush funded war and anti-terrorism initiatives and spending cuts and an agenda that diverted attention away from climate change our put our country into a self-focusing crisis. And, unfortunately, Obama has followed much the same path.
We are now facing a world without a summer ice cap and weather extremes that could increase within this decade (See: http://e360.yale.edu/feature/tipping_point_arctic_heads_to_ice_free_summers/2567/).
We could have made a difference this past 12 years, but chose not to and we may not even choose now.
MIT, a school many deem as the meeting point of our best minds, recently advocated that Obama take an all out approach to tackling climate change, with a carbon tax and a massive investment in research (see: http://washingtonexaminer.com/obama-warned-its-now-or-never-on-global-warming/article/2518251).
Their concern is that many in science believe that the earth's Arctic ice is nearing collapse by 2020, decades before earlier predictions, and if that happens, then the climate will change drastically within our life times.
Whether this will actually happen or not, it's not fully known, but the science definitely points to it.
Climate Change Deniers
Groups and people who deny the science will continue to fight those claims and push the belief that reports like The National Climate Assessment and reports from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change should be ignored and that climate change will never happen. It seems that many advocate that our best scientific minds can create nuclear weapons and the Internet, but should be ignored on climate change. It doesn't make sense.
I would like to believe that I'm wrong, and according to people and groups like Lord Monckton, The Heritage Foundation, and Competitive Enterprise Institute, I am one of many highly deluded American citizens.
Unfortunately, I am right on climate change science, but believe that denial groups will win over these next four years.
And that means we will let another critical milestone pass and won't DO ANYTHING until the unusual weather patterns change so much that we have no choice and then there is little left to do.
Our Tipping Point
The tipping point is the release of frozen methane. (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/01/11/401093/realclimate-alarmed-by-arctic-methane/?mobile=nc)
If we can keep global temperature under 2 degrees Celsius, then the chance that frozen stores of methane will be released is low. Go over that line and we could see a quick jump to 6 degrees Celsius.
What does 6 degrees look like? Best case is a climate of the Cretaceous period (144 - 65 MYA). Worst case is the Permian-Trassic extinction event where over 95% of all life died. (see: Under a Green Sky: Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past, and What They Can Tell Us About Our Future and Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet).
In the end, it's not about RealClimate.com or Obama or Lord Monckton or The Heritage Foundation. It's not even about politics. It's about science. And it's about you.
Educate yourselves. Read. Don't "believe" but understand the science and if it resonates, then change the way you live. It's OK to have luxuries but keep the house warmer in the summer and cooler in winter. Keep your car longer. Keep it maintained. Travel less, yet DO more with your kids and community.
I hope I'm wrong. I hope that the people who can make changes do and that we pull away from the brink of a hotter world. But it's obvious that the climate will continue to warm and that people will continue to ignore the science because it's expensive to do something.
And in the end, climate change will destroy us.