Climate Emergency

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Washington, DC – 2015- 2018 were the four warmest years on record, and the trend continues in 2019. Germany, France and the UK have all experienced record temperatures this summer. Germany’s National Meteorological Service said a record high temperature of 42.6°Celsius (108.7°Fahrenheit) was recorded in the northern German town of Lingen. France registered an all-time record high of 45.9°C (114.62°F) in the southern commune of Gallargues-le-Montueux. The Met Office in the UK recorded its highest-ever temperature in Cambridge University Botanic Garden at 38.7°C (101.7°F).

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said that, “Increasing greenhouse gas concentrations will fuel the global heat – and accompanying ice melt, glacier retreat, sea level rise, ocean heat and extreme weather for generations to come.”

“The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of carbon dioxide was 3 to 5 million years ago when the temperature was 2-3°C warmer and sea level was 10-20 meters higher than now,” noted WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

The average global temperatures are at 1°C above the pre-industrial period levels, according to WMO’s 2018 Statement on the State of the Global Climate, and “time is running out to achieve commitments under the Paris agreement to keep the temperature increase by the end of the century to well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit it even further to 1.5°C.”

June 2019 marked the 20th consecutive June with Arctic sea ice extent below average, as per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The June globally averaged sea surface temperature was 1.46°F above the 20th century monthly average of 61.5°F — tying with 2016 as the highest global ocean temperature for June on record.

The United Kingdom became the first country to declare a climate emergency, with France, Canada and Ireland have following suit, but all four countries are also heavily invested in the fossil fuel industry. According to the international research organization Global Footprint Network, “The carbon footprint from burning fossil fuel is the fastest growing part of humanity’s global ecological footprint – accounting for 60% of the total.”

July 29, 2019 marks the day when humankind will have used up its allowance of natural resources such as water, soil and clean air for the whole of 2019, according to the international research organization Global Footprint Network. Known as Earth Overshoot Day, this marks the date when the annual demand on nature overshoots what the Earth’s ecosystems can regenerate in that year. In the past 20 years, Earth Overshoot Day has moved up by two months, and this year’s date is the earliest ever. In simple terms, humanity is using the earth’s resources 1.75 times faster than the planet’s ecosystems can regenerate, equivalent to 1.75 Earths.

UN Environment’s sixth Global Environment Outlook (2019) called on decision makers to take immediate action to address pressing environmental issues to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals as well as other Internationally Agreed Environment Goals, such as the Paris Agreement.

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Poonam Sharma, Managing Editor, India America Today

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