Sunday Essays: More extremes

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Saturday, February 8, 2014

RECORD-BREAKING. Unpredictable. Extreme.

These are just few of many words that would describe the weather patterns across the world that razed over many lives not just in 2013, but also in the past 10 years.

Many scientists, researchers and climatologists claim that these are some of the effects of worldwide climate change and we will be expecting more in the coming years.

Climate change is not hot weather, and it is not cold weather. It’s becoming anomalous.

Climate change is breaking records, like 100-year floods every few years rather than once every 100 years like in Eastern Europe in July 2013 which experienced heavy downpours equal to annual rainfall levels but within one week.

However, in July, Europe (specifically in United Kingdom) experience the longest heat wave in seven years. Average temperature reached 56°C and air temperature was 38°C.

Also, the Angry Summer of Australia in early 2013, which broke 123 weather records within a 90-day period, including the hottest day ever recorded for Australia.

In November 2013, the category 5 Super typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) was hailed as the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record, killing at least 6,190 people and is also the strongest storm recorded at landfall.
Christmas season last year in the Middle East experienced the first snow in more than 100 years. Jerusalem, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Israel woke up with snow in their backyards and sudden drop of temperature.

And just recently the subzero temperatures and record-breaking blizzards throughout North America this month caused by anomalous jet streams.

In the past years, these extreme weather conditions only happen in strange circumstances. Unfortunately, they are now happening with increasing rate, longevity and ferocity.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) claims the Earth experienced extraordinary weather extremes from 2001 to 2010, the warmest decade since the modern measurements started in 1850.

The Global Climate 2001-2010: A Decade of Climate Extremes – Summary Report by WMO in 2013 showed that global warming accelerated from 1971 to 2010 and the degree of rise between 1991 to 2000 and 2001 to 2010 was unparalleled.

Warmer worldwide sea temperatures cause stronger typhoons during typhoon seasons that devastate several countries worldwide.

Also, hotter summer season causes extraordinary temperature that cause longer drought in areas which don’t usually experience too much heat.

Everybody thought that this global warming that caused climate change is only about the extreme increase of average temperature in many continents. It also causes extreme lows.

According to the National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC), as of December 2013, Arctic sea ice extent in December was the fourth lowest December extent in the past 36 years.

An NSIDC article in December 2, 2013 reports that in years of low sea ice, the jet stream weakens and slows, sending circles of air currents further south the Arctic region.

These loops can produce extreme weather patterns, such as hammering one area with unusual storms or snowstorms or drying a normally wet area with an extended drought.

That is climate change.

And Earth is not getting any better.

Forecasts from WMO report that extraordinary temperature increase in the past 40 years will continue in the next decades if there will be no actions made in controlling the amount of greenhouse gases released in the atmosphere by industrialized and third-world countries.

Despite the alarming state of international climate conditions, several developed nations have avoided international greenhouse emission reduction agreements.

Japan has dropped its reduction target from 25% to 3.8% by 2020 because it had closed its nuclear reactors after the 2011 tsunami and earthquake.

Meanwhile, Canada has pulled out of the Kyoto agreement.

On a lighter note, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has called 2014 "The Year of Climate Action.”

He encouraged various investments and nations worldwide to stop what could be the biggest challenge humanity has faced and grab the greatest opportunity for common progress to a sustainable future.

The UN leader will be organizing a climate conference in New York on the September 23, 2014.

If the current trend of increased greenhouse gas emissions continue, the world might witness more extreme, unpredictable, fatal, and new record-breaking weather or climatic phenomena.

And we don’t want that to happen, do we? (Khrist Ian Abog Maestre)

*****

Sunday Essays are articles written by Ateneo de Davao University students for their journalism class.

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