Los­ing the war against cli­mate change

Tak­ing stock of cli­mate change and the world­wide ef­forts to stop it.

Vocable (All English) - - Édito | Sommaire -

We are cur­rently wit­ness­ing ex­cep­tional weather events re­lated to cli­mate change on a global scale: such as, huge and very de­struc­tive fires en­gulf­ing huge swathes of Cal­i­for­nia, record high tem­per­a­tures have been recorded from the four cor­ners of the world, as well as very pro­longed drought in some places. Ac­cord­ing to ex­perts, these kind of events will in­ten­sify over the next few decades, mainly due to hu­man ac­tiv­ity. What is the plan for our planet?

Earth is smoul­der­ing. From Seat­tle to Siberia this sum­mer, flames have con­sumed swathes of the north­ern hemi­sphere. One of 18 wild­fires that swept through Cal­i­for­nia, among the worst in the state’s his­tory, gen­er­ated such heat that it created its own weather. Roughly 125 have died in Ja­pan as the re­sult of a heat­wave that pushed tem­per­a­tures in Tokyo above 40°C for the first time. 2. Such calami­ties, once con­sid­ered freak­ish, are now com­mon­place. Sci­en­tists have long cau­tioned that, as the planet warms—it is roughly 1°C hot­ter to­day than be­fore the in­dus­trial age’s first fur­naces were lit—weather pat­terns will go berserk. An early analysis has found that this swel­ter­ing Euro­pean sum­mer would have been less than half as likely were it not for hu­man-in­duced global warm­ing. 3. Yet as the im­pact of cli­mate change be­comes more ev­i­dent, so too does the scale of the chal­lenge ahead. Three years af­ter coun­tries vowed in Paris to keep warm­ing “well be­low” 2°C rel­a­tive to pre-in­dus­trial lev­els, green­house-gas emis­sions are up again. So are in­vest­ments in oil and gas. In 2017, for the first time in four years, de­mand for coal rose. Sub­si­dies for re­new­ables, such as wind and so­lar power, are dwin­dling in many places and in­vest­ment has stalled; cli­mate­friendly nu­clear power is ex­pen­sive and un­pop­u­lar. It is tempt­ing to think these are tem­po­rary set­backs and that mankind, with its in­stinct for self-preser­va­tion, will mud­dle through to a vic­tory over global warm­ing. In fact, it is los­ing the war.

(Noah Berger/AP/SIPA)

A fire­fighter try­ing to save a home on Dessie Drive in Lake­port, Cal­i­for­nia, July 31, 2018.

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