Europe fires signal colonial divide over climate change action – Reuters

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It takes a crisis to reach Europe or the United States for think tanks and forecasting ideologues to sit up and start squirming. Drought and locust infestation have killed thousands of people in the Horn of Africa for years; the Brahmaputra floods hundreds of villages in Assam every monsoon. Even last year’s Australian bushfires, which killed hundreds of animals and destroyed homes, were relegated to regional media.

But when it’s Europe that burns with scorching heat and forest fires; and it was England that hit an all-time high with temperatures soaring to 40.3°C, forcing trains to be suspended and airports paralyzed as runways melt, so climate change has arrived! Global warming and climate change — esoteric topics for naughty lectures — have finally caught up with the people who matter.

From Athens to Germany, dry, crumpled vegetation has turned much of Europe into a powder keg. The hardest hit were Portugal and Spain, where heat-related accidents claimed more than 2,000 lives. Dozens of monster fires in Spain have forced the suspension of train services in the regions of Catalonia, Ateca and Zaragoza. The European Commission said more than 98,000 acres have burned in France, Spain and Portugal in the past 2 weeks.

new normal

The head of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Peterri Taalas, says it is climate change that is at work and that in the future, “these types of heat waves are going to be normal and we will see even stronger extremes”. A series of climate summits have repeatedly warned that it is greenhouse gas emissions from human activities that have warmed the planet by around 1.2° Celsius since pre-industrial times. A warmer baseline means that higher temperatures can be reached during extreme heat events.

Areas of low pressure tend to pull air towards them. In Europe, the low pressure area regularly draws in air from North Africa, pumping warm air northward. One study linked the increase in part to changes in the jet stream. Researchers found that many European heat waves occur when the jet stream has temporarily split in two, leaving an area of ​​weak winds and high-pressure air between the two branches, conducive to the build-up of heat. extreme heat. On the ground, climate change has created hot, dry conditions that help spark fires and help fires spread. The warmer weather also saps moisture from vegetation, turning it into dry fuel that helps fires spread.

As the Earth’s temperature increases, the frequency and intensity of heat waves increases alarmingly. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which presented its pioneering findings in February this year, a heat wave that occurred once a decade in the pre-industrial era would occur 4.1 times per decade at 1.5°C warming, and 5.6 times at 2°C. Climate conferences have pledged to keep warming to no more than 1.5°C; but that’s unlikely, which means more extreme heat in the future.

The rich-poor divide

That said, WMO chief Peterri Taalas predicts that “emissions continue to grow and so it’s not certain that we’d see the peak in the 2060s if we’re not able to curb that trend. growth in emissions, especially in the large Asian countries which are the biggest emitters”. .” It’s coming. Asia and Africa are still the white man’s burden! Emissions are not a problem for Europe but for polluters in Asia.

In this crisis, Europe and the rest of the developed world are learning that it is not possible to cultivate a small Garden of Eden in Switzerland or Spain, while the rest of the poor world can do what they want. with Mother Earth. Environmental degradation and the greenhouse effect know no national borders. Global warming is melting Arctic glaciers and rising sea levels, threatening islands like Fiji. Gargantuan water movements cause cyclonic storms that slowly eat away at the rich coastal farmlands.

What Europe is not learning is that the response to the global warming crisis must be holistic and not regional. India and the rest of the developing world still depend on fossil fuels like coal because they don’t have the money to develop alternative forms of “clean” energy. Developing countries have lower emissions, but continue to bear the brunt of a warmer climate through more severe heat waves, floods and droughts.

This was reported by the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, during the recent climate negotiations in Glasgow (Cop26) demanding the creation of a “loss and damage” fund. Money from wealthier countries could help countries rebuild after storms, replace damaged crops or relocate at-risk communities. In 2020, losses due to climate and other natural disasters are estimated to have exceeded $220 billion.

The rich world had pledged $100 billion a year in “climate finance” to help developing countries reduce their emissions. However, very little was delivered. Perhaps the raging fires in Europe will shake the wealthy enclaves out of their fortress mentality.

It takes a crisis to reach Europe or the United States for think tanks and forecasting ideologues to sit up and start squirming. Drought and locust infestation have killed thousands of people in the Horn of Africa for years; the Brahmaputra floods hundreds of villages in Assam every monsoon. Even last year’s Australian bushfires, which killed hundreds of animals and destroyed homes, were relegated to regional media. But when it’s Europe that burns with scorching heat and forest fires; and it was England that hit an all-time high with temperatures soaring to 40.3°C, forcing trains to be suspended and airports paralyzed as runways melt, so climate change has arrived! Global warming and climate change — esoteric topics for naughty lectures — have finally caught up with the people who matter. From Athens to Germany, dry, crumpled vegetation has turned much of Europe into a powder keg. The hardest hit were Portugal and Spain, where heat-related accidents claimed more than 2,000 lives. Dozens of monster fires in Spain have forced the suspension of train services in the regions of Catalonia, Ateca and Zaragoza. The European Commission said more than 98,000 acres have burned in France, Spain and Portugal in the past 2 weeks. New normal The head of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Peterri Taalas, says it is climate change that is at work and that in the future, “these types of heat waves are going to be normal and we will see even stronger extremes”. A series of climate summits have repeatedly warned that it is greenhouse gas emissions from human activities that have warmed the planet by around 1.2° Celsius since pre-industrial times. A warmer baseline means that higher temperatures can be reached during extreme heat events. Areas of low pressure tend to pull air towards them. In Europe, the low pressure area regularly draws in air from North Africa, pumping warm air northward. One study linked the increase in part to changes in the jet stream. Researchers found that many European heat waves occur when the jet stream has temporarily split in two, leaving an area of ​​weak winds and high-pressure air between the two branches, conducive to the build-up of heat. extreme heat. On the ground, climate change has created hot, dry conditions that help spark fires and help fires spread. The warmer weather also saps moisture from vegetation, turning it into dry fuel that helps fires spread. As the Earth’s temperature increases, the frequency and intensity of heat waves increases alarmingly. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which presented its pioneering findings in February this year, a heat wave that occurred once a decade in the pre-industrial era would occur 4.1 times per decade at 1.5°C warming, and 5.6 times at 2°C. Climate conferences have pledged to keep warming to no more than 1.5°C; but that’s unlikely, which means more extreme heat in the future. The rich-poor divide That said, WMO chief Peterri Taalas predicts that “emissions continue to grow and so it’s not certain we’ll peak in the 2060s if we’re not able to to influence this trend in the growth of emissions, in particular in the major Asian countries”. who are the biggest emitters. It’s coming. Asia and Africa are still the white man’s burden! Emissions are not a problem for Europe but for polluters in Asia. In this crisis, Europe and the rest of the developed world are learning that it is not possible to cultivate a small Garden of Eden in Switzerland or Spain, while the rest of the poor world can do what they want. with Mother Earth. Environmental degradation and the greenhouse effect know no national borders. Global warming is melting Arctic glaciers and rising sea levels, threatening islands like Fiji. Gargantuan water movements cause cyclonic storms that slowly eat away at the rich coastal farmlands. What Europe is not learning is that the response to the global warming crisis must be holistic and not regional. India and the rest of the developing world still depend on fossil fuels like coal because they don’t have the money to develop alternative forms of “clean” energy. Developing countries have lower emissions, but continue to bear the brunt of a warmer climate through more severe heat waves, floods and droughts. This was reported by the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, during the recent climate negotiations in Glasgow (Cop26) demanding the creation of a “loss and damage” fund. Money from wealthier countries could help countries rebuild after storms, replace damaged crops or relocate at-risk communities. In 2020, losses due to climate and other natural disasters are estimated to have exceeded $220 billion. The rich world had pledged $100 billion a year in “climate finance” to help developing countries reduce their emissions. However, very little was delivered. Perhaps the raging fires in Europe will shake the wealthy enclaves out of their fortress mentality.

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