Climate challenge calls for united action - GulfToday

Climate challenge calls for united action


Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

A wide-ranging UN climate report released this week shows that climate change is having a major effect on all aspects of the environment, as well as on the health and wellbeing of the global population. The subject involves each and every living organism on this planet and hence deserves most serious attention.

The report, The WMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2019, which is led by the UN weather agency, World Meteorological Organization, contains data from an extensive network of partners.

The trend is frightening. Several heat records have been broken in recent years and decades: the report confirms that 2019 was the second warmest year on record, and 2010-2019 was the warmest decade on record. Since the 1980s, each successive decade has been warmer than any preceding decade since 1850.

The warmest year so far was 2016, but that could be topped soon, as per WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. Given that greenhouse gas levels continue to increase, the warming will continue. A recent decadal forecast indicates that a new annual global temperature record is likely in the next five years. It is a matter of time.

Ongoing warming in Antarctica saw large-scale ice melt and the fracturing of a glacier, with repercussions for sea level rise, and carbon dioxide emissions spiked following the devastating Australian bushfires, which spread smoke and pollutants around the world.

Australia’s 2018-2019 summer was the hottest ever recorded, reaching a peak of 41.9 degrees centigrade on December 18. Australia’s seven hottest days on record, and nine of the 10 hottest, occurred in 2019.

As UN officials point out, the country was not the only place affected by extreme heat, or wildfires.

Heat records were broken in several European countries, including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Even Nordic countries saw record-breaking temperatures, including Finland, which registered a high of 33.2 degrees in the capital, Helsinki.

Several high latitude regions, including Siberia and Alaska, saw high levels of fire activity, as did some parts of the Arctic, where it was previously extremely rare. Indonesia and neighbouring countries had their the most significant fire season since 2015, and total fire activity in South America was the highest since 2010. There are increasing signs that children are worried about climate crisis.

A British survey of 2,000 children, aged eight to 16, conducted by pollster Savanta-ComRes for BBC Newsround, revealed that one in five children are having nightmares about climate change.

About 17% of children in Britain said worries about climate change were disturbing their sleep while 19% said these fears were giving them nightmares.

Two in five, or 41%, went to the extent of saying that they did not trust adults to tackle the climate crisis.

Worldwide, some 6.7 million people were displaced from their homes due to natural hazards – in particular storms and floods, such as the many devastating cyclones, and flooding in Iran, the Philippines and Ethiopia.  The WMO report forecast an internal displacement figure of around 22 million people throughout the whole of 2019, up from 17.2 million in 2018. That highlights the gravity of the situation.

Over the past year, millions of young people have flooded the streets of cities demanding political leaders take urgent steps to stop climate change, inspired by 17-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.

It will be irresponsible on the part of the present generation to leave a much more inhospitable planet for the future generations to inherit.

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