Climate Crisis

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Surely it’s something of a shame that G20 energy and environment ministers were unable to agree on climate change targets, or even the wording of a key climate change commitment in their communique at a meeting in Naples, Italy just the other day, even as fires, floods, heatwaves and droughts rampaged all the way from Antarctica to Siberia across to Asia, Europe and the North American continent. This breakdown wasn’t entirely unforeseen, yet it still puts the United Nations (UN) climate talks, scheduled for November, in serious jeopardy; along with any hopes of securing a meaningful accord in time to stall a serious degradation of the whole world’s climate.Even climate experts are “shocked” that extreme events are occurring much faster than their models predicted. In southern Oregon, a record-breaking heatwave triggered a fire that has been raging for weeks. In China, flash floods took 51 lives and caused $10 billion worth of damage after the central city of Zhengzhou witnessed a year’s average of rain in a single day. And Russia was forced to declare a state of emergency in the far eastern region of Yakutia where authorities are experimenting with artificial rain to put out more than 200 fires. That’s not all. Most western European countries, especially Germany and Belgium, are witnessing mass floods like seldom before and had lost more than a hundred people by the time governments were able to put together their plans of action. The biggest problem by far is that it is not very likely for all governments to agree to do all the things that are needed to arrest and then reverse such trends. For example, India, China and Russia proved especially difficult in the talks in Naples, even though they are among the biggest victims of climate change and all its effects. India’s environment minister in fact said that “the momentum of climate action can only be accelerated when there is enough support through means of implementation including finance and technology.” He was no doubt referring to intense diplomatic pressure to announce a net zero emissions target by mid-century. And since neither the technology nor necessary finances are coming anytime soon, it’s safe to say that climate talks are going to stay stalled for at least the predictable future. What will not stay static, however, is the pace of change of the whole world’s weather. So as most countries go about using coal and other harmful fuels as before, and global weather deteriorates at a faster rate than predicted or even feared, perhaps the best that governments, businesses and families can do is prepare for much worse weather, if nothing else.