Losing the war against climate change
Taking stock of climate change and the worldwide efforts to stop it.
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.
A firefighter trying to save a home on Dessie Drive in Lakeport, California, July 31, 2018.