Earth is experiencing such an acute climate crisis that “once in a century” catastrophes are now becoming regular occurrences. That’s the warning from new research by the World Meteorological Organisation.
This year is on course to be the second or third hottest year on record, with temperatures now 1.1 degrees above pre-industrial levels.
The past 12 months aren’t an aberration, but a long-term trend that is speeding up.
Colin Morice from the Met Office said this year “is set to join each of the years from 2015 as the five warmest years on record”. “Each decade from the 1980s has been warmer than the previous decade,” he said.
“This year will conclude the warmest decade in records that stretch back to the mid-19th century.”
Some, such as the UN’s IPCC body of climate scientists, warn that just a further 0.4 degree rise will mean utter horror for the planet and every living species.
With Earth set for a 3 degree rise by the end of the century, it’s now not a question of if this will happen—but when. Although
3 degrees probably doesn’t sound catastrophic, that rise will set off a complex series of ecological changes.
This year has seen this process begin to play out—with dramatic consequences.
The US received the highest average of rainfall ever on record, while fatal flooding hit northern Argentina, Uruguay and southern Brazil.
Meanwhile, parts of Europe sweltered in two heatwaves in June and July, with national records set in several countries and highs of 46 degrees recorded in France.
Wildfires have raged through Siberia and Alaska. Huge blazes ripped through the Amazon rainforest, and South America overall saw the most wildfires since 2010.
Other extreme weather events are also becoming more frequent and severe.
In March, tropical Cyclone Idai devastated parts of Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. And Hurricane Dorian stayed over parts of the Bahamas for days, causing huge destruction.
This is a climate emergency—not that you’d believe it from the thumb twiddling going on in the UN’s Cop talks in Madrid, Spain.
There the rich and powerful do their best to appear as though they care about tackling climate change. All the while they defend capitalism—the system that has caused it.
Human civilisation is coming closer and closer to global catastrophe.
It is a future that will be blighted not just by a more extreme and erratic climate. It will be beset by increasing competition for diminishing resources of food, clean water and clean air.
That’s the future that fossil fuel capitalism is promising us. It’s our job to fight for a better one.