The WMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2019 aptly sums up global mitigation efforts. The flagship study by the United Nations captures physical signs of climate change — largely touted as humanity's top concern in contemporary times. Observations regarding land and ocean heat, melting ice sheets and rising sea-levels as well as collateral impacts that these will have on land and marine ecosystems, food security, migration and displacement, socio-economic development, etc., is crucial for us given the global order's current propensity to not completely adhere to climate commitments as envisaged the Paris Agreement. The report makes grim affirmations of the fact that 2019 was indeed the second-warmest year on record with the 2010s being the warmest decade yet. Australian bush fire and Amazon forest fire only aggravated the situation, compounding CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Several countries across the planet saw increased heat levels with European countries observing record-breaking temperatures. To say that the average temperature in Nordic nations reached 33 degrees Celsius is enough testimony to the rising temperatures. Not heat but it is the unpredictable climatic conditions that are propelled with climate change which is an even greater threat. While the average increase in temperatures will make for tougher days in the sun, especially for those not suited to higher temperatures, it will also adversely impact food production patterns. Sporadic and unexpected rainfalls will not let cultivation of certain crops happen in a business-as-usual style. Food security, therefore, stands jeopardised. With unpredictable patterns of rainfall, especially the monsoon, there is a threat of droughts and floods that hovers. Droughts and floods are again detrimental to food security. Not just that, they are direct causes for loss of lives. And, as expected, they are mere byproducts of climate change that we're experiencing. When we come up with a damage assessment in terms of cost, the finances are also to go into haywire. Rising temperatures also bring in a suitable breeding situation for mosquitoes that are carriers of the deadly Dengue virus that is a principal cause for fatalities in tropical and sub-tropical areas. One can draw out the entire cause-effect of climate change on a chart paper to understand that everything is interconnected and in totality, mitigation measures are our best hope when it comes to the staggering cost of climate change. But the question is, do we realise that?
Right now, we may be occupied with the Covid-19 pandemic. With the epicentre shifting from China to Europe, it remains to be seen whether the Coronavirus is seasonal or even deadlier. Still, the WMO Statement on global climate requires observation by world leaders. This will enable better internal discussions over climatic concerns which will be reflected in the next climate conference (COP26) in Glasgow. COP26 will largely show if humanity learned anything in the face of existential threats or simply ignored it in vain.
(Image from weather.com)