Friday, March 24, 2023

A hotter world

Scientists have warned that 2023 is set to be a scorcher with temperatures set to rise ‘off the charts’ causing unprecedented heatwaves. The record-breaking heat can be blamed on the return of the El Niño climate phenomenon later this year. According to meteorologists 2023 could end up as the hottest year ever. Environment scientists world over are concerned over the prediction that 2023 will be an El Nino year. That may push temperatures by over 1.5°C compared to the average temperature a century ago. The hottest year on record was 2016, when average temperature rose by 1.3°C compared to the average of 1850-1900. Rain patterns in India are also expected to get altered with the return of El Niño in 2023. Planet-warming threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius (1.5°C) is feared to be breached this year, triggering a cascading impact on India’s weather patterns, including the monsoon. That effect is now predicted to end, bringing warmer conditions in parts of the Pacific and leading to the global temperature being warmer than in 2022. Heat waves are becoming more frequent and longer globally, and scientists say that human-caused climate change has an influence on all of them. To determine human influence on extreme heat, scientists use a combination of observations and climate models, or simulations. While models are often conservative in their findings, observed extreme heat in western Europe increased much more than estimated by the models. Extra greenhouse gases in our atmosphere are the main reason that Earth is getting warmer. Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane, trap the Sun’s heat in Earth’s atmosphere. There is a difference between “weather “and “climate” as the former relates to conditions in the atmosphere over a short time. In the latter, it relates to how the atmosphere behaves over a longer period of time. Climate change generally means changes in long-term averages of daily levels of temperature and rainfall. In a warming world, we can expect it to get wetter. The distribution of the rainfall throughout the year could change as we experience longer, drier spells, although when rain falls it may be in intense bursts. That being so, the issue of climate change is also a factor that is related with mindless destruction of forests and precipitation of the “green house gas effect” from various chemicals and fossil fuel emissions. The local destruction of the local environment has also added to the changes in climate. According to environmentalists, there can be no compensation for the loss of natural forests because open forests are often classified as degraded. A dense or closed forest, as it is known in scientific terms, is characteristic of that area and climatic conditions. When a natural forest is felled what is lost is the ecological system, including rare species of flora and fauna. What replaces it is a monoculture plantation of fast-growing species. The contributory factors for abnormal weather patterns are varied and many. It is therefore important to make citizens aware of their roles and once this is achieved, perhaps even choice of environmental friendly products would become a necessity. What needs to be understood is that climate cannot be changed at conferences but when individuals take responsibility of ensuring they protect and preserve the environment.

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