Sanchez: Floods, the tipping point

Nature Speaks

MALCOLM Gladwell’s debut book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference mentions the tipping point, “that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.”

Gladwell argues how small actions at the right time, in the right place, and with the right people can create a “tipping point” for anything from a product to an idea to a trend. Gladwell is not a sociologist, but he relies on sociological studies, and those from other disciplines within the social sciences to write articles and books that both the general public and social scientists find fascinating and worthwhile.

Maybe Gladwell should brush up on the natural sciences, especially on climatology and meteorological sciences. He’ll find that Typhoon Tisoy is no magic moment. More like a hex. The pox on humankind. And the pox is going global.

Being on the Pacific typhoon belt, we can expect not just typhoons but more megastorms the likes of Haiyan aka Yolanda. Blame it on inadequate efforts to stanch carbon pollution.

The devastating impacts of global warming that threaten humanity are a pushback from nature under assault, UN chief Antonio Guterres warned recently at a key climate conference.

“For many decades the human species has been at war with the planet, and now the planet is fighting back,” he said, decrying “utterly inadequate” efforts of the world’s major economies to curb carbon pollution.

“We are confronted with a global climate crisis and the point of no return is no longer over the horizon, it is in sight and hurtling toward us.”

“Climate-related disasters are becoming more frequent, more deadly, more destructive,” he said on the eve of the 196-nation COP25 climate change talks in Madrid.

Human health and food security are at risk, he added, noting that air pollution associated with climate change accounts for seven million premature deaths every year.

The Paris Agreement calls for capping global warming at under two degrees celsius, but recent science has made clear that the treaty’s aspiration goal of 1.5C is a far safer threshold.

As ocean temperatures rise with global warming, the tropical cyclones that threaten both East Asia and the Atlantic seaboard could grow in strength and intensity.

In fact, the Hong Kong Observatory said super typhoons—the strongest category—were slightly more common now than they were—between 1961 and 2010.

Major emitters—such as the USA, China, India, Russia and Brazil—ignore the climate emergency in their national agenda.

So we have to bear the disasters in the making. And weep.


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