Climate change naysayers better wake up - GulfToday

Climate change naysayers better wake up

Heatwave in Europe

People cool off in the Trocadero fountains across the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Reuters

Merely halfway through 2019, the world has already witnessed temperature records smashed from Europe to the Arctic Circle and the year could prove to be one of the hottest ever recorded.

This June was the hottest on record, beating out June 2016 — so far the hottest year ever.

The first half of 2019 also saw intense heat waves in Australia, India, Pakistan and parts of the Middle East, according to the World Meterological Organisation (WMO).

Soaring temperatures broke records in Germany, France, Britain and the Netherlands last week as a heat wave gripped Europe for the second time in a month and this should definitely be seen as a wake-up for action against climate change.

As a cauldron of hot air from the Sahara desert moved across the continent, drawn northwards by high pressure, Paris saw its highest temperature since records began and Britain reported its hottest weather for the month of July.

An all-time high was measured in Germany for a second day running, at 41.5 degrees Celsius in the northwestern town of Lingen on Thursday.

The impact was harsh and residents were forced to face the brutal impact of the heat wave.

The abnormal conditions even brought a reduction in French and German nuclear power output, disrupted rail travel in parts of Britain and sent some Europeans, not habitual users of air conditioning in their homes, out to the shops in search of fans.

Health authorities were forced to issue warnings to the elderly, especially vulnerable to spikes in temperature.

The seriousness of the situation could also be gauged by the warning issued by the United Nations that the hot air which smashed European weather records this week looks set to move towards Greenland and could cause record melting of the world’s second largest ice sheet.

As per Clare Nullis, spokeswoman for the UN WMO, the hot air moving up from North Africa had not merely broken European temperature records but surpassed them by 2, 3 or 4 degrees Celsius, which she has described as “absolutely incredible.”

Three papers released this week showed that Earth’s temperature was currently warming at a rate and uniformity unparallelled in the past 2,000 years.

There are enough alarm bells ringing over climate change. The heat waves in Europe, drought and storms in Africa, melting glaciers, bleaching corals, the Arctic ice melting — do we need to add more?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report spells out that by the end of the 21st century temperatures must not exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius. Unfortunately, not enough is being done to achieve that.

The challenge comes on multiple fronts. Ocean heat also hit a record high in 2018 raising urgent new concerns about the threat global warming is posing to marine life.

Scientists have repeatedly linked intense heat waves to manmade climate change and indications on the ground are substantiating their arguments.

The sequence is alarming. The last four years are the hottest on record. Last year was fourth on the list, with an average surface temperature of 1°C above pre-industrial levels. The year 2016 still holds the crown as the hottest year in human history — 1.2C above average.

There is a need for everyone to unite, connect to nature and stand together for the planet.

The planet is heating up fast, and if the counter-measures are not equally swift, the repercussions could be unimaginable.