World leaders, scientists and diplomats have pointed out that the outlook on global warming by the middle of the century is no longer as bleak as it was when the historic Paris Agreement was signed in 2015 , yet they warn that its impacts are already raging to Earth more than predicted.
In addition, they claim that the use of coal, oil and natural gas that drive climate change is not decreasing as much as needed , despite the existence of cheaper renewable sources of energy.
In general, humanity still has a negative trend, and despite the fact that the measures imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down the emission of greenhouse gases this year, it was only temporarily and according to scientists, such reduction did not generate a significant impact due to the concentration of past emissions, so the world could still be on track for a ‘catastrophic’ rise in temperature of more than 3 degrees above pre-industrial levels.
More than 100 countries – and even a greater number of large companies – have promised to achieve zero carbon emissions by mid-century, although the Paris Agreement points more to targets by 2030. In parallel, the United States, than during the Barack presidency Obama was key in crafting the agreement, leaving the pact in November, after constant threats from President Trump.
The US is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind China, and in this context, President-elect Joe Biden has promised that his country will rejoin the agreement.
Water joined gold, oil and other commodities traded in US markets, emphasizing concerns that the natural resource may be scarce in much of the world. The futures are linked to the Nasdaq Veles California Water Index, which started two years ago and measures the volume-weighted average price of water.
The United Nations has long warned that climate change is causing severe droughts and more flooding, making water availability less and less predictable. Two billion people now live in nations plagued with water problems, and nearly two-thirds of the world could face water shortages in just four years, said Tim McCourt, global head of alternative equity and investment products index at CME.
“Climate change, droughts, population growth and pollution are likely to make water scarcity and price issues a hot topic for years to come,” said RBC Capital Markets managing director and analyst. , Deane Dray.
2020 will be one of the hottest years in history: global temperatures between January and October were about 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, putting this year on track to be one of the three warmest since the records started.
This decade will be the hottest on record, and the six warmest years have been recorded since 2015, according to the latest interim report on the state of the world climate prepared by the World Meteorological Organization.
“In short, the state of the planet is broken (…) Humanity is waging a war against nature. This is suicidal. Nature is always fighting back, and is already doing so with increasing strength and fury, “said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.” Apocalyptic fires and floods, cyclones and hurricanes are increasingly the new normal. Guterres added. Natural disasters cost the world a total of $ 150 billion last year.
The conservation status of the Australian Great Barrier Reef went from a problem of “considerable concern” to a “critical” level , warned the report published in November by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN, for its acronym in English). ).
The document explains that the reef suffers the destructive effects of oceanic warming, water acidification and extreme weather conditions. As a result, the coral is discolored, something that occurs when the ocean temperature is too high and the algae that expel the corals from their tissues cause them to lose their original coloration until they reach a completely white tone.
Experts warn that the destruction of the reef – which serves as habitat for more than 1,500 species of fish – also leads to a drop in the populations of some species.
The hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica increased to its largest and deepest level in years , the European Union’s Earth observation program reported in October.
Experts from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service called for international efforts to be redoubled to ensure nations adhere to an agreement to phase out the use of chemicals.
Vincent-Henri Peuch, who runs the service, said in a statement that the hole in the ozone layer “definitely” was one of the largest in the past 15 years.
The Greater Horn of Africa region witnessed one of the worst desert locust infestations earlier and later this year.
In May, another plague settled in Paraguay and later advanced to various provinces of Argentina, reaching the territory of Brazil, a country that finally declared a health emergency.
Pests increased as a result of extensive breeding, favorable weather and rains, and populations are expected to increase further in the coming months. A one-square-kilometer cloud of these insects can consume the same amount of food as 35,000 people.
With 30 storms, the Atlantic hurricane season surpassed the mark set in 2005 , even the options for naming storms were exhausted , prompting forecasters to reconsider naming future storms.
Ten of those storms rapidly intensified, becoming more dangerous. A dozen made landfall in the US, breaking the record of nine. And Louisiana was hit five times.
The floods killed nearly 2,000 in India in June and affected 17 million people. Other floods and landslides in Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan and again in India left at least another 1,250 dead. African floods killed nearly 600 people, while floods along the Yangtze River and the Three Gorges Dam in China caused at least 300 deaths in the summer and caused economic losses of more than $ 15 billion, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
The terrible fire season in the state of California devastated more than four million acres (1.62 million hectares) and claimed the lives of more than 31 people , the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported in early October. , Calfire.
Since the beginning of the year, more than 8,200 wildfires have been registered in California , destroying about 8,400 structures, Calfire said in a statement.
The historic four million acres is larger than the size of the entire state of Connecticut , and exceeds that recorded in the previous record year in California, in 2018, when more than 1.8 million acres burned.
Global warming may have sparked the largest Sahara dust storm in the last sixty years to embrace parts of the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico and the US.
“It is curious that this particular phenomenon occurs when the highest temperatures have been recorded in northwest Africa. It is very possible that climate change and global warming affect and increase the amount of dust that is transported throughout the planet”, he Joseph Prospero, a scientist who has been studying this type of phenomenon for decades, told EFE
Although it is a natural phenomenon, this year the dust traveled more than 5 mi km thanks to a series of winds from the Iberian Peninsula that transferred a large concentration of particles to “the Sahara layer”, located about four kilometers high.
Two types of African dust particles in high concentration represent a health problem for those with chronic respiratory problems and heart disease and can increase mortality in them.
During the Summit on Climate Ambition held on December 12, which coincided with the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement , Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the UN asked all the nations of the world to declare a State of Climate Emergency until it is reached the neutrality of carbon emissions.
The economic recovery after COVID-19 , points out the United Nations, should be the opportunity to change the course towards a greener future.