Recently, a report on climate published by IPCC has raised tensions and United Nation General Assembly has called it – “code red” for humanity. Scientists across the globe have shown concerns about the upcoming climate change.
In between USA president Trump, withdrawing from Paris climate deal, by calling climate change “ a bluff” and later Joe Biden joining it again and everyone talking about limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5?C above to pre-industrial level, this report is here which says that we are going to hit that target as early as 2040, which will cause doom and disaster.
Why is this report so important?
Climate Change report 2021 has been published by IPCC( Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change), a scientific government body under UN to analyze climate change and its political and economic impacts on the nations. Two UN organizations- WMO( World Meteorological Organization) and UNEP (United Nation Environment Programme) established the IPCC in 1988.
Climate Change report of 2021 is a summary for policymakers. It is a 4000 pages report, having many scientific evidences and different details. These reports have both a technical aspect and general outlook to it.
IPCC has 3 working groups, the first one deals with the physical science basis of climate change, it checks what is causing the change in climate, has published its report in August 2021. Second one deals with impacts, adaptation and vulnerability of climate change, it will release its findings in February 2022 and the third one, deals with the mitigation of climate change, i.e. ways to reduce the damage now, it will be coming with its report in March 2022. In September 2022, all three will come with a synthesis climate change report which will be the summary of all reports. So, the report we are talking about is from ‘working group’ 1.
The report says-
Global surface temperature rose by 1.09?C higher, out of which 1.07?C warming is due to Greenhouse Gases associated with human activities. Increase in GHG concentrations since 1800s is mainly due to human activities.
What is the concept of greenhouse gases actually?
Solar radiation comes to earth as high energy waves in from of short wave radiation, that’s why it can penetrate the layer of gases. So, when earth gets heated up, it radiates and throws back all the energy from it. But when, Methane, Carbon-Di-Oxide, Nitrous Oxide are present in the atmosphere, they do not let the radiation go out of earth, they trap it, and that leads to the heating of surface of earth, known as global warming or greenhouse gas effect.
Horrific findings of the report-
Over the last 200 years, methane concentrations in the atmosphere have more than doubled. Methane is emitted from a variety of anthropogenic (i.e. by human activities) emission sources like landfills, garbage , slaughter houses , oil and natural gas systems, agriculture activities, coal mining, stationary and mobile combustion, waste water treatment, and certain industrial processes. Methane is more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. It is 25 times more dangerous than CO?.
Atmospheric CO? concentrations are higher than at any time in at least past 2 million years. 2400 billion tonnes of CO? (carbon-di-oxide) emission has been recorded since the late 1800s. Concentration of CH? (Methane) and N?O(Nitrous Oxide) are higher than at any time in at least 800,000 years. Also the report shows that the observed average rate of heating accelerated during the period 2006-2018 compared to the period 1971-2006. Even in 2020, we have experienced that the annual mean temperature was 1.2?C above the normal.
What future we will leave for our generations?
If we go with the best estimates, controlling the temperature increase at 1.5? (range from 1.2?-1.7?) for year 2021-2040, then it will rise to 1.2? - 2.0? by 2041-2060 , which is quite dangerous , but with this pace, we will reduce it in future and it might come down to 1.0?-1.8? (best being 1.6?C) by 2081-2100. This is the only way to save the planet. We have to follow this at any cost.
In the worst case scenario, if we keep burning fuels at current pace, the estimate being 1.6?( range from 1.3? to 1.9?) for 2021-2040, then it will rise to 2.4? (range being 1.9?-3.0?) in 2041-2060 and then will be worsening with 4.4? (range from 3.3?-5.7?) by 2081-2100. So, if we don’t take strict measures, doomsday is coming to us, at much faster pace than we can think.
Effect on weather patterns-
The arctic will continue to warm likely above 2 times the rate of global warming. At the global scale, extreme daily precipitation events are projected to intensify by about 7% for each 1?C of global warming, this will become reason of more floods in coming years. Already, unprecedented floods in India have been seen this year.
The proportion of intense tropical cyclones (categories 4-5) and peak wind speeds of the most intense tropical cyclones are projected to increase at the global scale. Cyclones originate at a warm sea surface.
The continued heating of land, disturbs the atmospheric circulation and incites the creation of unusual pressure changes which leads to changes in permanent wind system (for example- trade winds) and this results in unusual dry and wet conditions across globe.
Thinning ice in arctic, will not be able to act as reflector for solar radiation, heat will be absorbed more in earth, increasing the earth’s temperature.
Wild forest fires and heat waves in Canada are the visible effects of global rise in temperature. It is possible that in upcoming years, we shall witness heat waves in major portions in 180 days per year.
According to estimates, if global temperature raises 1.2?C, we shall experience 4.8 times more heat waves, but if we keep burning fossil fuels and generating these greenhouse gases at current pace, then more rise in global temperature shall lead us to experience 40 times more heat waves than today.
Marine life will be destroyed because when more CO? penetrates into water, then CO?, water and carbonate ions (used by many aquatic creatures to make heir shell), they altogether form the ‘2-bicarbonate ions’, that impedes the calcification, and soon the ocean will start being acidic.
Impact on India- A warmer climate shall intensify very wet and very dry weather. Climate change shall give more flooding or drought to India. Monsoon shall become unpredictable.
What can we do now?
Besides climate mitigation, it is essential to invest in climate adaptation, because the situation is coming for sure. To invest in early warning and weather observation systems is need of the hour. Only half of the 193 members of WMO have state of art weather, climate and hydrological service capabilities. We have also major gaps in observing networks in Africa, some parts of Latin America and Pacific and Caribbean island states. There are some compounds or some short-lived aerosol that might reduce the heating, because they act as reflector and does not let the heat being absorbed and keep the planet cool. We need to work on such ideas; otherwise upcoming future is in danger zone now.