Monday March 18, 2019

Global Greenhouse Gas Level Continues To Rise, Need For a New Political and Investment Paradigm

The WMO is honoured to support UN member states and the Security Council in the provision of top-quality information on weather, climate, water and environment-related threats to peace and security.

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Earth depletion
Earth depletion, Pixabay

Global greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise to record levels in 2018-2019, the chief economist of World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has told United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

“Global average greenhouse gas concentrations of CO2 (carbon dioxide) reached 405.5 parts per million in 2017 and continue to rise to record levels in 2018-2019,” Professor Pavel Kabat was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency on Friday.

“The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3 million to 5 million years ago, when the temperature was 2-3 degrees Celsius warmer and sea level was 10-20 meters higher than now.”

marine and ocean life
Ocean heat content is also at record levels, with far-reaching, lasting consequences for marine life,pixabay

 

The past four years have been the warmest on record, with many high-impact weather events which bear the hallmarks of climate change. The 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years. The global average temperature is nearly 1 degree Celcius above the pre-industrial era, said Kabat in the WMO’s first ever briefing to the Security Council.

He noted that the World Economic Forum taking place in Davos, Switzerland, has put extreme weather, natural disasters, climate change and water crises as the top four existential threats in its Global Risks Report 2019.

These show significant interconnections with other shocks and impacts to peace and security and sustainable development, he said.

Research by the WMO and its partners and network of scientists shows that sea level rise is accelerating, as is the melting of polar ice sheets, posing an increasing existential threat to small island developing countries, said Kabat.

Climate change, carbon
The Amazon Tall Tower Observatory stands in Sebastiao do Uatuma located in the Amazon rain forest in Brazil’s Amazonas state, Aug. 22, 2015. The tower, built by Brazilian and German governments, collects data on greenhouse gases. VOA

The shrinking of Arctic sea ice affects not just the local environment and indigenous peoples, but also influences weather patterns in the world’s populated regions. Glacier melt continues unchecked, with short-term impacts including increased flooding and a long-term threat to water supplies for many millions of people.

Ocean heat content is also at record levels, with far-reaching, lasting consequences for marine life, coral reefs and food security, he said.

earth, digital
Environmental threats like climate change and pollution are linked to lethargic enforcement of laws governing management of vital ecosystems, says a report released on Thursday by UN Environment.

Climate change has a multitude of security impacts, rolling back the gains in nutrition and access to food, heightening the risk of wildfires and exacerbating air quality challenges, increasing the potential for water conflict, leading to more internal displacement and migration, warned Kabat.

“It is increasingly regarded as a national security threat.”

He expressed the hope for closer collaboration and for the establishment of mechanisms for future briefings to the Security Council “to provide authoritative information for decision-making and support the diplomatic business of the council in areas appropriate to the understanding and analysis of peace and security threats.”

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The WMO is honoured to support UN member states and the Security Council in the provision of top-quality information on weather, climate, water and environment-related threats to peace and security, he said.

Kabat said there is a need for a new political and investment paradigm to build a new generation of hydro-climate forecasting and early-warning services.

“This should become a component of basic country-infrastructure, like roads and bridges,” he said. (IANS)

Next Story

Students Worldwide Skip School to Protest Government’s Failure against Global Warming

They're angry at their elders, and they're not taking it sitting down

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global warming, climate change
Students from different institutions hold placards and banners as they participate in a climate protest in New Delhi, India, March 15, 2019. VOA

They’re angry at their elders, and they’re not taking it sitting down.

Students worldwide are skipping class Friday to take to the streets to protest their governments’ failure to take sufficient action against global warming.

The coordinated “school strikes,” being held from the South Pacific to the edge of the Arctic Circle, were inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who began holding solitary demonstrations outside the Swedish parliament last year.

Since then, the weekly protests have snowballed from a handful of cities to hundreds, driven by social media-savvy students and dramatic headlines about the impact of climate change.

climate change, global warming
Students attend a protest ralley of the “Friday For Future Movement” in Berlin, Germany, March 15, 2019. VOA

Thunberg, who was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, was cheered for her blunt message to leaders at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland this year, when she told them: “I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day.”

Friday’s rallies are expected to be one of the biggest international actions yet. Protests were under way or planned in cities in more than 100 countries, including Hong Kong; New Delhi; Wellington, New Zealand; and Oulo, Finland.

In Berlin some 10,000 protesters, most of them young students, gathered in a downtown square, waving signs with slogans such as “There is no planet B” and “Climate Protection Report Card: F” before a march through the capital’s government quarter. The march was to end with a demonstration outside Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office.

Organizer Carla Reemtsma, a 20-year-old university student, said social media had been key in reaching people directly to coordinate the massive protests in so many different locations, noting that she was in 50 WhatsApp groups and fielding some 30,000 messages a day.

“It’s really important that people are getting together all over the world, because it’s affecting us all,” she said.

Critics, supporters

Some politicians have criticized the students, suggesting they should be spending their time in school, not on the streets.

“One can’t expect children and young people to see all of the global connections, what’s technically reasonable and economically possible,” said the head of Germany’s pro-business Free Democratic Party, Christian Lindner. “That’s a matter for professionals.”

climate change, global warming
Students hold signs during a rally for global climate strike for future in Seoul, South Korea, March 15, 2019. VOA

But scientists have backed the protests, with thousands signing petitions in support of the students in Britain, Finland and Germany.

“We are the professionals and we’re saying the young generation is right,” said Volker Quaschning, a professor of engineering at Berlin’s University of Applied Sciences.

“We should be incredibly grateful and appreciative of their bravery,” said Quaschning, one of more than 23,000 German-speaking scientists to sign a letter of support this week. “Because in a sense, it’s incredibly brave not to go to school for once.”

Scientists have warned for decades that current levels of greenhouse gas emissions are unsustainable, so far with little effect. In 2015, world leaders agreed in Paris to a goal of keeping the Earth’s global temperature rise by the end of the century well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Yet at present, the world is on track for an increase of 4 degrees Celsius, which experts say would have far-reaching consequences for life on the planet.

“As a doctor, I can say it makes a big difference whether you’ve got a fever of 41 degrees Celsius (105.8 Fahrenheit) or 43 C (109.4 F),” said Eckart von Hirschhausen, a German scientist who signed the call supporting striking students. “One of those is compatible with life, the other isn’t.”

Other action

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have publicly welcomed the student protests, even as their policies have been criticized as too limited by environmental activists.

In France, activist groups launched legal action this week for failing to do enough to fight climate change, citing a similar successful effort in the Netherlands.

climate change, global warming
Hundreds of schoolchildren take part in a climate protest in Hong Kong, March 15, 2019. VOA

In Germany, environmental groups and experts have attacked government plans to continue using coal and natural gas for decades to come. Activists say that countries like Germany should fully “decarbonize” by 2040, giving less-advanced nations a bit more time to wean themselves off fossil fuels while still meeting the Paris goal globally.

Other changes needed to curb greenhouse gas emissions include ramping up renewable energy production, reining in over-consumption culture now spreading beyond the industrialized West and changing diets, experts say.

“The fight against climate change is going to be uncomfortable, in parts, and we need to have a society-wide discussion about this,” said Quaschning.

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That conversation is likely to get louder, with several U.S. presidential hopefuls planning to campaign on climate change.

Luisa Neubauer, one of the Berlin group organizing Fridays for Future, said politicians should take note of the young.

“For the European elections in May, we’re urging everyone to think about whether they want to give their vote to a party that doesn’t have a plan for the future and the climate,” she said. (VOA)