Devastating and historic wildfires around the world within the past decade have also raised awareness of the link between climate change and factors that exacerbate natural calamities, such as drought and deforestation.
According to a report by NOAA and NASA, it is confirmed that 2010 to 2019 was the hottest decade since record keeping began 140 years ago. The report also showed that 2019 was the second hottest year ever recorded and that ocean temperatures were the highest they’ve ever been. These hotter temperatures helped fuel several natural disasters as the world finally confronted the realities of climate change.
This decade, the planet awakened to a grim reality: Climate change is here, it’s happening now, and it could very easily get much, much worse.
The past 10 years saw some of the deadliest, dramatic and devastating events. Hurricanes fundamentally changed the communities, leaving behind scars that have yet to heal. Stronger and stronger heat waves forced communities across the country and world into dangerous swelter. Wildfires tore up hundreds of thousands of acres in a flash.
Climate records fell left and right on our planet. Hottest-ever year for our atmosphere? Check. Hottest-ever year for oceans? Also check. Unprecedentedly tiny stretches of Arctic sea ice? Check, check, check.
The Earth had its hottest May ever last month, continuing a climate change trend as 2020 is set to be among the hottest 10 years ever, scientists with the Copernicus Climate Change Service announced recently. The year 2019 was the second-hottest year ever, capping off the world’s hottest decade in recorded history. And six of the warmest years on record were during the past decade.
According to a NOAA study, the 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998, and nine of the 10 have occurred since 2005. The year 1998 is the only year from the twentieth century still among the ten warmest years on record. Looking back to 1988, a pattern emerges: except for 2011, as each new year is added to the historical record, it becomes one of the top 10 warmest on record at that time, but it is ultimately replaced as the “top ten” window shifts forward in time.
The study also projects that by 2020, the global surface temperature will be more than 0.5°C (0.9°F) warmer than the 1986-2005 average, regardless of which carbon dioxide emissions pathway the world follows.
The analysis adds that by 2030, however, the heating imbalance caused by greenhouse gases begins to overcome the oceans’ thermal inertia, and projected temperature pathways begin to diverge, with unchecked carbon dioxide emissions likely resulting to several additional degrees of warming by the end of the century.
It is now well known that climate change and biodiversity are interconnected. Biodiversity is affected by climate change, with negative consequences for human well-being, but biodiversity, through the ecosystem services it supports, also makes a vital contribution to both climate-change mitigation and adaptation.
The emergence of COVID-19 has underscored the very fact that, when we destroy biodiversity, we destroy the system that supports human life.
Today, it is estimated that, globally, about one billion cases of illness and millions of deaths occur every year from diseases caused by coronaviruses; and about 75% of all emerging infectious diseases in humans are zoonotic, meaning that they are transmitted to people by animals. While there is a hope at the horizon with clinical trials being accelerated worldwide now showing positive outcomes. And many overcoming the symptoms of this disease along with people learning to live the “New Normal.”
The message from nature is loud and clear; we have to learn to co-exist in an environment that respects natures sanity and our sustainability. Biodiversity involves 8 million plant and animal species, the ecosystems that house them, and the genetic diversity among them. As the most intelligent and evolved species it is our responsibility to nurture them.
The upcoming 2020s are the decisive decade for the world to avert the worst impacts of climate change in a peaceful revolution that rejects the type of “short-sighted” pro-coal policies embraced by US President Donald Trump, a key architect of the Paris climate Agreement had once said.
UN Environment says that a goal of almost halving greenhouse gas emissions in the next decade works out at annual emissions cuts of 7.6% per year worldwide in the 2020s – rates previously associated with wars, recessions or slumps such as the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.
Youth climate activists such as the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg and Manipur’s child environmental activist, Licypriya Kangujam, are gaining global attention and successful in forcing world leaders to bring attention to their stolen futures. Scientific teams are issuing stronger and stronger warnings. Global attention to the matter and the potential solutions is growing. But at the same time, the action that’s been taken until now is far from enough.