It seems like the world could not take the heat of 2020, literally and metaphorically.
On Wednesday (2 December), the United Nations (UN) said that 2020 may be one of the hottest years ever recorded – and it may even top the 2016 record.
Unfortunately, things may not get better. From 2015 to 2020, this period is set to make up six of the hottest years since modern records started in 1850.
The UN’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)’s secretary Petteri Taalas said that 2020 was yet another extraordinary year for the climate.
Definitely not a good thing.
In 2015, some parties had signed the 2015 Paris Agreement, an agreement by participating countries that calls for capping global warming below 2°C above the pre-industrial level. The pre-industrial period is 1850-1900, when there were…erm, no factories that damage the environment, and lots and lots of trees to keep Earth healthy.
While this is in effect, countries will continue to limit the increase to 1.5°C.
However, the average global temperature for 2020 is set to be about 1.2°C above the pre-industrial level. In addition to that, there is also a one in five chance of it temporarily exceeding the limit by 2024.
Close to Climate Catastrophe
Yes, it is as devastating as it sounds. With the 2020 report, it seems like we’re one step closer to climate catastrophe. This means rapid temperature increases, accelerating global climate change and irreversible impacts.
The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that fires, floods, cyclones and hurricanes are becoming the new normal.
2020 also saw new levels of extreme temperature on land and sea, especially in the arctic. There were also wildfires in different parts of the world, including Australia, Siberia and South America. There have also been flooding in Africa and Southeast Asia.
To make things worst, greenhouse gases hit record-high levels last year and climbed even more in 2020. Greenhouse gases are the main cause of climate change.
The impact of Covid-19 on carbon dioxide emissions were expected to be a drop of 4.2 and 7.5 per cent. However, this effect can be neglected as carbon dioxide has been in the atmosphere for centuries.
More than 80 per cent of the ocean has also experienced a marine heatwave at least once so far this year.
There have also been a record number of 30 storms and 13 hurricanes which were formed in the Atlantic ocean and 12 land-falling storms in the US.
What Can Happen
Remember when we thought 2012 was going to be the end of the world? Perhaps the world should have ended right there and then.
Unfortunately for us, there is no way to undo the damages that we have made on the planet. According to NASA, global warming would continue for decades to come even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases. This is because the planet takes a while to respond.
No, they do not text back in seconds.
Carbon dioxide is a heat-trapping gas, and it lingers in the atmosphere even after years have passed. As you may know, the Arctic is slowly melting away. This is an irreversible change.
It may not be too late. We may be able to reduce greenhouse gases and adapt to climate change. However, carbon dioxide emission and pollutants may affect the future. Recycling more and driving fuel-efficient cars are not enough to help as well.
Climate change is a global problem that requires social, economic and political powers to work together. For now, we can each do our part in making a difference. You could invest in renewable energy for your home, reduce water usage or take public transport more.
And with Joe Biden taking the keys to the Oval Office, we might finally see some change.
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