With Sri Lanka again being devastated by floods and landslides with about 60,000 people left homeless and at least nine dead and with hurricane ‘Michael’ hitting Florida and the adjoining areas -- the worst in their history -- the United Nations has warned that the world has only 12 years to limit the climate change catastrophe.
The United States’ impulsive and dangerously unpredictable President Donald Trump is still rejecting climate change or global warming as a hoax made in China and boasting of his economic achievements such as the lowest unemployment rates in recent decades. But the world’s leading climate scientists have warned there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people, the Guardian newspaper reported.
According to the newspaper, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released on Monday says urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to reach the target, which is affordable and feasible though it lies at the most ambitious end of the Paris agreement pledge to keep temperatures between 1.5C and 2C.
The half-degree difference could also prevent corals from being eradicated and ease pressure on the Arctic, according to the 1.5C study, which was launched after approval at a final plenary of all 195 countries at Seoul in South Korea. The meeting saw delegates hugging one another, with some in tears.
“It’s a line in the sand and what it says to our species is that this is the moment and we must act now,” said Debra Roberts, a co-chair of the working group on impacts. “This is the largest clarion bell from the science community and I hope it mobilises people and dents the mood of complacency”.
The Guardian says policymakers commissioned the report at the Paris climate talks in 2016, but since then the gap between science and politics has widened. The US President has pulled his country out of the Paris accord though the US is known to be the world’s biggest polluter. Last Sunday the first round of Brazil’s presidential election put Jair Bolsonarointo in a strong position to carry out his threat to do the same and also open the historic Amazon rain-forest to agribusiness.
The world is currently 1C hotter than pre-industrial levels. Following devastating hurricanes in the US, record droughts in Cape Town and forest fires in the Arctic, the IPCC makes clear that climate change is already happening, upgraded its risk warning from previous reports, and warned that every fraction of additional warming would worsen the impact, the Guardian added.
Scientists who reviewed the 6,000 works referenced in the report, said the change caused by just half a degree came as a revelation. “We can see there is a difference and it’s substantial,” Ms. Roberts said.
In Sri Lanka though, priority has been given to environmental conservation and a eco-friendly green economy, we have seen during the past few years some of the worst-ever droughts and floods in recent decades. Even today hundreds of thousands of people have been affected by the heavy rains and strong winds in several districts while in other districts droughts still continue. For instance in one district the farmers are reported to have lost their harvest of big onions and the government is paying compensation to them. President Maithripala Sirisena is himself the Minister of Environment and has repeatedly said he specially asked for this portfolio because it is a subject close to his heart. Since 2015, the government has done much to control global warming and climate change, but not enough. We hope that in the next month’s Budget, the highest priority will be given to build a sustainable green economy, through high technology methods with an equal place and an equal say being given to millions of poverty-stricken people, mainly the youths, in rural areas.