Given the proven emerging pieces of evidence of extreme climatic conditions globally, the IPCC report gives a fair warning that ‘if global warming continues on its current track, hundreds of millions of people will face water scarcity. Plant and animal species will go extinct.
By Salam Rajesh
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres hailed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s latest report ‘Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis’ as ‘a code red for humanity’. This comes close on the heels of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s conclusion that July this year was Earth’s hottest month on record, and the year 2021 will possibly rank among the 10 warmest years ever recorded.
NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information reported that the combined land and ocean surface temperature in July this year was 0.93 degree Celsius above the pre-industrial level. NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad says, “July is typically the world’s warmest month of the year, but July 2021 outdid itself as the hottest July and month ever recorded. This new record adds to the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe”.
Given the proven emerging evidences of extreme climatic conditions globally, the IPCC report gives a fair warning that ‘if global warming continues on its current track, hundreds of millions of people will face water scarcity. Plant and animal species will go extinct. And nearly 1 billion people will suffer through more frequent life-threatening heat waves’.
The latest IPCC report is a collective contribution of the Working Group I to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the IPCC. Obviously containing bad news for the world community, the report spells out that the land-surface only temperature in the Northern Hemisphere was the highest ever recorded for July, at an unprecedented 1.54 degrees Celsius above average, surpassing the previous record set in 2012.
The report disquiets all when it states that Asia had its hottest July on record this year, while Europe had its second hottest July on record, tying with July 2010 and trailing behind July 2018. To top the icing, the report points out that North America, South America, Africa and Oceania all had a top 10 warmest July. This rings the warning bell, so much as Antonio refers to the report as ‘a code red for humanity’.
Terming the findings alarming, Rick Spinrad leaves no one in doubt when he sums up the IPCC report on a pessimistic note, “Scientists from across the globe delivered the most up-to-date assessment of the ways in which the climate is changing. It is a sobering IPCC report that finds that human influence is, unequivocally, causing climate change, and it confirms the impacts are widespread and rapidly intensifying”.
The most striking statement in the IPCC’s AR6 report is the one where it unflinchingly says that, “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred”.
The interference of human activity in different forms which are stated to interfere with the processes of nature has repeatedly been focused in world forums, and the world community has since called for governments to find solutions in emergency mode. The goals outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement to be achieved by the world community by the year 2030 are reinforced by the findings laid out in IPCC’s AR6 report.
Human interferences in large scale resulting in massive forest depletion, physical modifications of land and water bodies, emission of carbon through extensive fossil fuel based industries, locomotives, and massive pollution loads have landed Earth in dire straits today, darkly outlined as in the IPCC report, as is true of in other reports concerning environmental hazards.
One of the pervasive ecological and environmental hazards has been the rapid and large scale deforestation of vital tropical rainforests primarily for oil palm monoculture. Tropical rainforests are important storehouse of carbon. Vast tracts of significant rainforests in Southeast Asia and Latin America has been ravaged by oil palm companies, endangering Indigenous peoples and wildlife thriving in these rainforests, while unleashing huge amount of carbon from the massive burning to clear the forests.
Indigenous people in Southeast Asia and Latin America are staging massive protests to halt destruction of their rainforests by oil palm companies, mining companies, logging companies, and other industrial ventures. Countries like Sri Lanka have led the campaign to halt the destructive oil palm by putting a total ban on its cultivation. Peru, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Malaysia are all coming up with considerations to put a halt to this highly commercialized and destructive monoculture.
Ironically, as the world community continues to reel under increasing impact of extreme weather conditions, India has stepped up plans to promote oil palm. North East India which falls under the tropical rainforest zone is being mapped as a hotspot of oil palm cultivation. Five States in the region have already gone ahead with the ‘destructive’ activity while Manipur is set to step into the picture with the Manipur Government calling oil palm cultivation as a ‘lucrative’ business.
The first glance at the IPCC’s AR6 report stands out ominous, where the report says, “Observed increases in well-mixed greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations since around 1750 are unequivocally caused by human activities. Since 2011 (measurements reported in AR5), concentrations have continued to increase in the atmosphere, reaching annual averages of 410 ppm for carbon dioxide”.
The statement is as plain as it can be in indicating that negative activities of humans in various spheres has resulted in a steady increase of carbon contain in the atmosphere, resulting in the concerns on steady rise in temperature with each passing year. The statement is also plain in stating that human interference is primarily responsible for processes resulting in global warming.
The next statement in the report is as hard hitting as the preceding statement, where it says that, “Each of the last four decades has been successively warmer than any decade that preceded it since 1850. Global surface temperature in the first two decades of the 21st century (2001-2020) was 0.99 degree Celsius higher than 1850-1900”. At this calculation, it is pretty much left to no doubt that Earth’s inhabitants will continue to reel under harsher weather conditions in the coming years.
The worst that can be said of a totally negative trend of humans during these past millennia and more is the heart-rendering statement in the IPCC report that, “Human influence has warmed the climate at a rate that is unprecedented in at least the last 2000 years”. What can be said more than this that humans have caused their own destruction by their own hands, unless of course humans step back to reflect on the damages committed and find solutions post-haste.
(The writer is a media professional working on environmental issues. He can be contacted at [email protected])extreme climatic conditions