Five years after the signal of intent was adopted with considerable grandstanding at the Paris conference on climate change, the latest report of the United Nations, as advanced on Wednesday, is direly unnerving for the comity of nations.
The core issue that has been underlined by the document ~ as perhaps never before ~ is that global warming is “closing in on a dangerous milestone”. For all the jaw-jaw at the high tables at Cancun, Copenhagen and Paris, there has been little or no forward movement on the fundamental issue of environment. Indeed, warming of the Earth, to which the world belongs, has already ‘increased the odds of extreme events that are unprecedented in our historical experience’.
That forthright disclosure ought to be the dominant theme at the next conference on climate ~ now a periodic charade ~ whatever the likes of Donald Trump might contend.
Barely two months before the presidential election, the extent of warming is too hot a potato for the political class in America. Not to put too fine a point on it, it has now been established that Man’s conflict with Nature has contributed not a little to the raging coronavirus pandemic, verily the worldwide catastrophe that has defined the year 2020.
The pandemic could well be a chance to tackle climate change. Humans are said to be responsible for the 70 per cent reduction in the world’s wildlife over the past 50 years. It is a measure of this impervious attitude that the world is getting closer to passing a temperature limit set by global leaders in 2015, and may exceed that limit in the “next decade or so”.
The update, furnished by the UN, the World Meteorological Organization and other global science entities is emphatic that in the next five years, the “world has nearly a 1-in-4 chance of experiencing a year that’s hot enough to put the global temperature at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times”. The chances of “dangerous problems will increase tremendously” is the grim foreboding of the report, indeed the third in the series after similar UN documents in 2015 and 2018.
The latest document comes in the aftermath of what has been described as “weather gone wild in the US”, exemplified by the California fires, not to forget what the report calls “unprecedented wildfires” in the Amazon, the Arctic and Australia. It is cause for alarm that Death Valley recorded 54.4 degrees Celsius and Siberia hit 38 degrees Celsius.
Nature appears to have struck against the conventional notions of climate and warming. Wednesday’s update on climate disruption transcends more than just increasing temperatures and rising sea levels. As the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, writes in the foreword, the phenomenon has affected communities, nations and economies around the world. In a sense, the United Nations, as the voice of the comity of nations, has warned the world. Sadly, it can do little else.