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Scientists point out that despite having sufficient knowledge about climate change, humanity is unable to reverse global warming, and the window of opportunity is rapidly closing. The sooner authorities listen to science, the faster they can reduce polluting emissions.
The carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere increases, but our willingness to do something about it, no, warn specialists.
In the context of the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which began on the 6th of this month and ended on the 17th, the need to be more ambitious in terms of reducing greenhouse gases and putting the world on a cleaner and more sustainable route has never been more urgent.
Climate projections indicate an increase in extreme events and temperatures, droughts and floods. The seas and oceans, our great lungs, overheat and reach the saturation point to absorb the increased carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
"There is a current debate among governments about whether to be more ambitious, but it is nothing more than an assumption and we still do not know," said Hans-Otto Portner, one of the chairs of Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts. on Climate Change (IPCC) and research director of ecosystem physiology at the Alfred Wegener Institute, in dialogue with IPS.
Portner hopes that the current round of UNFCCC negotiations will show how extreme weather events changed the mindset of decision makers.
"Climate change will not go away and its consequences will become more and more intensive so the pressure on decision makers to do something in the short term will increase," Portner observed.
"It has to do with those countries that are not very affected at the moment, where there is inertia and where, perhaps, awareness is important enough," he argued.
"Then there are people who do not follow the obvious knowledge about scientific information, but follow their own beliefs. As a citizen, you can only hope that these people, over time, lose influence, "he added.
Hotter weather vs. colder ambitions
Political influencers are not lacking to take more ambitious actions to reduce carbon emissions and address the problem of climate change. But, attention is focused on those who deny global warming, such as the president of the United States, Donald Trump, who initiated the process to remove his country from the Paris Agreement, signed at COP21 in 2015.
It is clear that the world has enough knowledge about climate change compared to a century ago, but the actions taken so far are not enough, Portner said. For example, the European auto industry took too long to create reciprocating engines despite the talk of electric vehicles for years.
The rulers of the world pledged to reduce carbon emissions and slow the rise in global temperature above two degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial era.
They also pledged to ensure that it did not rise more than 1.5 degrees to maintain an Earth where life is sustainable. Scientists worry that ambitions are still weak.
With the start of the 6th IPCC assessment cycle, there is pressure to validate the Paris Agreement, the foundation of which is the world's ability to adapt and reduce the impacts of climate change.
All countries must drastically cut carbon dioxide emissions by mid-century if the treaty's goals are to be achieved.
"The current climate report clearly indicates that net zero emissions are a precondition for limiting global warming to below two degrees," he explained.
"But just reducing carbon dioxide emissions may not be enough," he said.
“The net removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere should help. That is already technically possible, but the challenge is to create and implement respective technologies on a larger scale, "he added.
The latest report from the Washington-based World Resources Institute revealed that more than 55 countries, responsible for 60 percent of global emissions, pledged to release a maximum volume by 2030.
While that is good, the total polluting gases released into the atmosphere must reach in 2020 to avoid dangerous overheating, warns the document.
Acting as a giant carbon sink, the oceans take in about a third of that gas, released into the atmosphere by human activities.
But when absorbed by seawater, greenhouse gases generate chemical reactions causing the ocean to acidify, the scientists explain. This, on the one hand, decreases the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but, on the other, it affects the life cycles and materials of the oceans and those that depend on it.
The German Research Network, Biological Impacts of Ocean Acidification recently concluded an eight-year investigation, with a team of 250 scientists from 20 German institutions on the matter.
The study notes that ocean acidification, warming and other environmental conditions harm them and compromise the ecosystem services they provide.
Fish off the menu
The acidification of the oceans reduces their ability to store carbon dioxide, which threatens the marine ecosystems that feed the world's fish stocks.
The study by the Geomar Center for Ocean Research in Kiel shows that acidification and warming will affect the availability of fish and global stocks.
And when it comes to overfishing, this "is not necessarily an ecological catastrophe, but it is stupid from an economic point of view and it is unfair," explained Gerd Kraus, from the Thunen Institute for Marine Fisheries in Hamburg.
Fish is the main source of protein for 1 billion people, mainly in developing countries. The loss of coral reefs, which provide habitat and coastal protection, will affect aquaculture and fish harvesting.
But change is difficult, it is slow.
Leave fossil fuels
Fossil fuels are the main source of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and of air pollution, said Felix Ekardt, director of the Climate and Sustainability Policy research unit in Leipzig.
A 2017 study shows that this energy source kills nine million people, more than those who die from war, HIV / AIDS and malaria (malaria) combined.
Bioacid research calls for a rapid reduction of fossil fuels as one of the options for an effective ocean acidification policy.
"The most effective mechanism for this is to define clear political measures to eliminate from the market the fossil fuels used in the energy sector, in heating and use in industry (such as fertilizers) by implementing a point quality control mechanism," he said.
Gebru Jember Endalew, President of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) group, lamented this and other developing countries cannot take ambitious measures to tackle climate change or protect themselves against its consequences unless all countries exceed the commitments they make. are on the table.
"As the 47 poorest countries in the world, LDCs face the unique and unprecedented challenge of lifting our people out of poverty and achieving sustainable development without relying on fossil fuels," Endalew said.
By Busani Bafana
Translated by Verónica Firme