The United Nations (UN) warn of more extreme weather events ahead, saying climate change is now upon us. The latest assessment by the UN panel of climate scientists (IPCC) predicts the increase in average global temperatures could surpass the critical limit of 1.5 degrees by 2030. That’s much sooner than previously thought, but experts say it’s still not too late for governments to take action.
Code red for humanity – that’s how the UN secretary general described the report. Its first since 2014. It states unequivocally that humans are to blame for global warming.
Greenhouse gas emissions from human activities have driven the global temperature up by 1.1 degrees since 1850 and it’s on course to pass the 1.5 degrees limit already by 2030, unless rapid action is taken.
Effects of the temperature rise have never been more visible across the world. Wildfires are scorching parts of the planet while severe floods have left others submerged. And the worse part? This is just the beginning.
If we stop warming at 1.5 degrees, then we will also stop many of these extremes from getting worse. It is possible to slow these changes down by urgently and drastically reducing CO2 emissions in the next decade.
The report comes as policy makers prepare for a key climate summit in November. Activists want them to honor their commitments. Governments play a key part in it and there are only a few critical governments which are really important. The rich countries agreed more than 10 years ago to put a pot of money together to help developing countries deal with climate change. Ten years later, they have still not got that money together.
Among the key takeaways from the IPCC report were:
- Temperatures are likely to rise by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels over the next two decades.
- Sea level has risen by 20 centimeters.
- Heat waves and heavy rains are affecting more than 90% of the world’s regions.
- Heatwaves has become more frequent in Asia.
- The Indian Ocean has warmed faster than the global average
Climate change is real and to put it in perspective, let’s take a glance on what climate change has done to our planet in just the last 30-40 days.
In the United States of America, heat wave have claimed 116 lives in Oregon and 78 in Washington. As you are reading this article, California is battling the Dixie fire, the second largest wildfire in the state’s history. Nearly 500,000 acres of land has been destroyed, thousands have had to flee their homes. 106 other large fires are burning across 14 American states.
In Canada, temperatures recently touched almost 50 degree Celsius. At least 233 people died in British Columbia. More than a million shellfish were boiled alive in the ocean.
There’s chaos in Greece, the country is fighting more than 150 wildfires. 1,455 fire fighters have been deployed, thousands have had to flee their homes, more than 1,300 have been evacuated from the island of Evia.
In Turkey, wildfires have swept thorough forests, homes and vehicles, killing at least eight people. Fires also continue to threaten parts of Italy and Venice has been flooded by untimely rains. In Russia, 155 fires are burning.
Less than a month ago, Germany was hit by a freak flood. At least 180 people were killed, 150 others are still missing. Floods also hit Belgium, killing at least 20 people.
In India, floods and landslides have killed more than 150 people with several states have been affected. Parts of Australia were hit by what’s being called a mini tornado. It is so hot in West Asia, that Dubai had to cool the city down using artificial rain. Kazakhstan cannot afford artificial rain. Severe drought has killed hundreds of horses there.
The planet is suffering and the IPCC report links freak weather to climate change. These wildfires, floods, tornadoes, drought, landslides, and heat waves are all man-made disasters. They will become more frequent in the days to come and soon there will be no way to hit a reverse button.
Right now, we still have a chance, we can still stop the world from heating further by immediately reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This is a climate emergency and it is a reality of our generation.
The UN panel says its report will be critical for negotiations at the upcoming summit. The future of our planet could hinge on its outcome.