Summer is no longer “the nice season” but “the season of danger”, warns the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
Murderous floods in Pakistan, of historic proportions drought and heat waves in China and Europe, torrential rains on one side of the US and the worst drought in centuries on the other: from one end of the northern hemisphere to the other extreme weather events made the reality of climate change clearer than ever for billions of people.
“This summer has taught us that we are in the midst of a climate crisis and that its effects are here, all around us,” stated the environmentalist Stefan Ramstorff. “We are heading for a global climate disaster if we don’t act quickly and decisively,” he stressed.
Indeed, this summer the extreme weather events followed one another: an extreme and premature heat wave was already recorded in India in the spring, with the temperature often exceeding 45 degrees Celsius. In June a “heat dome” covered 120 million Americans, with a series of storms and of floods to follow him. Meanwhile, the western part of the US is suffering from a two-decade drought, the worst in 12 centuries.
In Spain and Portugal there were huge outbreaks fires, a glacier collapsed in Italy killing five people. China is experiencing a historic drought affecting half of the country, with the iconic Yangtze River, a vital source of drinking water and power generation, running dry in many places.
Based on predictions
Although it is too early to attribute either phenomenon to climate change, their accumulation appears to be following predictions.
“Global warming due to fossil fuel use has been correctly predicted since the 1970s”recalled Ramstorf of the Potsdam Institute PIK.
Heatwaves are recurring, longer and even hotter, and “the magnitude of the phenomenon corresponds to what was predicted”, as was the increase in heavy rainfall and drought, “which were predicted three decades ago”.
“Europe is a hot spot for heatwaves, tending to experience heatwaves three or four times faster than other regions at a similar latitude in the Northern Hemisphere.”
At Britain for the first time this year the temperature exceeded 40 degrees Celsius, while opposite, on the French coast, the temperature was 4 to 5 degrees above normal.
“We can question whether the drought that hit the northern hemisphere in 2022 can be considered one of the worst in modern history because of its scope and intensity,” said Omar Badous of the World Meteorological Organization.
The effects of heat and drought are often cumulative. For every one degree Celsius the Earth’s temperature rises, 7% more water evaporates into the atmosphere, according to UN climate experts.
“If we do nothing”
This has implications at all levels: at Pakistan the deluge monsoons killed more than 1,100 people, submerged a third of the country under water, destroyed crops and affected 33 million people.
THE Chinaexperiencing its hottest summer in six decades, has increased coal production to compensate for the limited operation of hydroelectric plants.
In Europe drought facilitated the spread of fires in many countries, corn crops in France were scorched by the heat, and fallen leaves covered the streets of London in August.
Will the summer of 2022 be the coolest of our lives? “No, there will be cooler summers than the one in 2022,” he assured environmentalist Jean Zouzel“but these hot summers will become more and more frequent” and “by 2040-2050 the summer of 2022 will be the norm.”
“It’s not because we doubted the reality of climate change that we didn’t act and we’re not going to act because we see it,” said CNRS geographer Xavier Arnaud de Chartres, estimating that the lack of action is due to “a lack of will.”
For the American non-governmental organization Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), summer is no longer “the nice season”, but “the season of dangers”.
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