Mass flooding, unprecedented heatwaves, raging wildfires – what exactly is happening, and should we be worried?
Gideon Heugh | 10 Aug 2021
Right now, wildfires of an enormous scale are sweeping across Greece, Turkey and California. In July, China experienced its worst flooding in over a thousand years, while Europe also saw devastating floods. At the same time, North America was scorched by a record-breaking heatwave.
Last week, scientists warned that the Gulf Stream – the flow of air in the Atlantic that has a huge influence on the world’s climate – is at risk of collapse. These are just the latest developments after years of increasingly frequent and severe weather events.
No. A landmark report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said ‘it is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, oceans and land’, and that this warming is ‘already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe.’
This confirms the message that the scientific community and organisations like Tearfund have been communicating for years: the climate emergency is here, now, and it is being caused by human activity.
Yes. People living in poverty are already facing the devastating consequences. Across sub-Saharan Africa, the weather in many countries is swinging between extreme floods and extreme droughts. This is causing havoc on food production, putting millions at risk of hunger. According to the UN, more than a billion people could be forced from their homes within the next few decades as they try to escape the climate chaos.
The new report makes it clear that any further heating of the planet will cause irreversible damage – and that we will all be affected. This is a fight for survival.
Kunna, 40 years old, carries a container of water to her home in Kenya. People living in poverty are already suffering the effects of climate change.
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