Climate Change:Northern Hemisphere Experiencing Heat waves

by July 8, 2019 0 comments

Heat waves

As record heat waves strike across the northern hemisphere this summer, climate change seems beyond our control

The northernmost US state of Alaska is not a place where you would expect temperatures to exceed 30 degrees celsius or people to slap on sunscreen and sit under parasols. But it is happening so this year despite large parts of its geographical territory being above the Arctic Circle. This would be an odd occurrence if it happened in isolation but it is in continuity with warming trends of the last few years linked partly to a decline in sea ice and Arctic Ocean warming. Permafrost or the frozen ground that makes up about 85 per cent of Alaska, is thawing and affecting life as we know it, from building foundations of liveable structures, saving wildlife habitats and growing Tundra berries. Last year, puffins died in huge numbers because their prey fish had migrated away from warmer waters. Concurrently, Europe is suffering some of the highest temperatures in living memory with parts of France and Spain seeing temperatures more akin to an Indian summer. Scientists have, therefore, concluded that such persistent highs were not just about a micro-climate zone but had indeed been brought about by climate change. Europe reported the hottest June since 1880, according to the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. The temperature was 3oC above the June average a century ago. And because heat waves now have a repetitive pattern of occurrence, there is no doubt that global heating, caused by carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels and other human activities, is manifesting itself sooner than expected. 

Some are saying that the warm draft from the Indian sub-continent is the reason behind the heat wave in continental Europe. With the delays in the monsoon rains and their lower than expected volumes this time, weather patterns are worrying not just climate scientists but even the general public and governments. We may be staring at a new wave of climate migrations, refugees and deaths of vulnerable people unused to temperature shocks. The toll on human health is already visible with estimates that thousands of elderly and infirm people across Europe will succumb to high heat. In India, we cannot even contemplate the results of a poor monsoon and resultant drought, desertification and starvation in outlier pockets. Warmer waters mean rising sea levels which will threaten hundreds of millions of people staying in low-level areas, both in India and in neighbouring countries. So we have to start preparing for the worst and have an original green template than be ostriches burying our heads in the sand. India is doing its utmost to ensure equitable and sustainable development that will allow citizens to grow economically and consume more energy while harming the planet lesser. Water conservation should be in mission mode, too. 

Writer  & Courtesy: The Pioneer

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