The reality of Climate Change: from hurricanes to massive migrations
An important report in the United States has shown that Climate Change is getting worse, and this week we could be the only country to be left outside the…
MORE IN THIS SECTION
You cannot cover the sun with one finger. The destruction of Barbuda, the crisis in Puerto Rico, the relentless fires in California and Portugal, are just examples that have made headlines about what climate change really means for humanity.
And still, the government of one of the most powerful countries in the world insists on denialism and discrediting decades of scientific studies.
Against all that the Trump Administration has insisted on selling, 13 federal agencies published an exhaustive scientific report last Friday, where they assure without fear of being wrong that "humans are the dominant cause of the increase in global temperature that has created the hottest period in the history of civilization."
The cause is easier to understand that it seems and has been a scientific litany for many years: the greenhouse effect is caused by gas emissions product of human industrial activity.
The Climate Science Special Report has a publication with more than 800 pages of evidence, which was supported on Friday by some government agencies and academics nationwide, according to The Atlantic.
It is a report that is issued every four years by the National Climate Assessment at the request of the United States Congress.
“This is the most comprehensive assessment of climate science currently available in the world, and it reaffirms what we’ve already known,” said Robert Kopp, one of the lead authors of the report and a professor of climate science at Rutgers University. “If we want to do something like stay under 2 degrees Celsius of warming, the window to do that is closing in the next couple decades.”
This is basic knowledge for the international scientific community. The United Nations handles the limit of two degrees Celsius as the point at which dangerous climate change begins.
Despite the wide evidence, Donald Trump’s government - represented specifically by Scott Pruitt, director of the Environmental Protection Agency - has insisted that the data is not accurate and that climate change could be a myth.
“Science tells us that the climate is changing and human activity in some manner impacts that change,” Pruitt said during his testimony when he was nominated to head the agency. “The human ability to measure with precision the extent of that impact is subject to continuing debate and dialogue, as well they should be.”
For his part, and during the same confirmation hearings as nominees for the new cabinet, the future Secretary of State Rex Tillerson assured then that “The risk of climate change does exist. The increase in greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is having an effect (but) our ability to predict that effect is very limited ".
What would happen next was easy to predict: Trump and Pruitt dismantled the aggressive policies put in place by President Barack Obama to reduce carbon dioxide pollution in the United States; they rescinded the Clean Energy Plan during the month of October and President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement.
Evidently, the White House maintains its positions: after the publication of the report last Friday, the administration issued a statement in which it seemed to seemed to undercut the high level of confidence in the report’s findings,” according to the New York Times.
“The climate has changed and is always changing,” Raj Shah, a White House spokesman, said in the statement. “As the Climate Science Special Report states, the magnitude of future climate change depends significantly on ‘remaining uncertainty in the sensitivity of Earth’s climate’” to greenhouse gas emissions, he added.
But still, the data in the report are lapidary:
- The earth has presented high temperatures for three consecutive years, and the last 16 years have been the warmest recorded in the world.
- Catastrophes - such as floods, hurricanes and heat waves - that have cost the United States up to $ 1.1 trillion since 1980, will become a constant phenomenon.
- Every part of the US territory has been affected by warming and conditions will only get worse
The issue is once again the subject of debate and disagreements when the International Climate Conference in Bonn (Germany) takes place this week, and where Syria has announced its plans to join the Paris climate agreement (an agreement created in 2015 in which nations unite to reduce carbon emissions globally, as explained by the Washington Post).
If this were to happen, the United States will become the only country to discredit the agreement, even below countries such as Syria that, while facing one of the worst wars in its history, continues to leave room for international collaboration.
To make things even worse, Climate Change could be one of the most important causes of migration, a term to which the White House seems to be allergic.
As explained by Reece Jones - geography professor at the University of Hawaii and author of Violent Borders - in her column for Undark.org, an estimated 200 million people will be displaced by climate change-related catastrophes by 2050.
“Hurricane Irma destroyed everything on the island of Barbuda and forced the relocation of its more than 1,600 residents, demonstrating that climate-induced migration is no longer a future possibility, but a present-day reality,” the academic said. “A week and a half later, Hurricane Maria knocked out power for Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million residents and left much of the island without potable water. Fifteen percent of Puerto Rico’s population is expected to leave the island in the coming year."