As the decade comes to a close, environmentalists are looking back over the last ten years of supposedly ‘natural’ disasters and extreme weather. It’s alarming: there are absolutely no signs that the global climate crisis is under control.
It just keeps on getting hotter. While Canadians are enjoying a balmy winter (which officially started on December 21, when temperatures were way above seasonal in Toronto), Australians are once again being scorched half to death.
Temperatures peaked on December 21-22 in Victoria and South Australia with several areas exceeding 48°C. The heat and bone dry conditions have sparked numerous bushfires. New South Wales has been placed under a total fire ban as firefighters battle to contain more than 100 fires burning around the state, including the 400,000-hectare Gospers Mountain megafire in Wollemi national park in the Blue Mountains. Across the globe in California, the 2019 fire season, which so far has counted close to 7000 fires, is still not over. Moreover, fires are flaring up in places where they have rarely been seen before—in the Arctic tundra and in Siberia above the Arctic circle. The chart on the left shows the startling spike in carbon emissions from Arctic wildfires that has occurred this year.
It’s not hard to figure out that the increasing number of wild fires might be sparked and fanned by rising global temperatures. Meteorologists are already saying that 2019 is the planet’s second-warmest year on record, rounding off the hottest decade on Earth since those records begun. Eight of the ten warmest years have occurred this decade, and the other two were just a few years before. The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) headlined their latest assessment by saying that “2019 concludes a decade of exceptional global heat and high-impact weather”.
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