23 September 2020
Action necessary on all fronts, climate scientists warn
2020 is a year of disasters. Beyond the pandemic shaping the lives of every person on earth, climate disasters of unprecedented scale and intensity have dominated headlines. The year that began with disastrous bushfires scorching vast swaths of Australia’s southeastern regions, leaving three billion animals dead or displaced and destroying over 2,700 homes, which were echoed by wildfires in the western United States. The wildfires presently still tearing through the states of California and Oregon have already destroyed thousands of homes in the area and their impact is being felt across the world in the form of the smoke created there.
The economic impact of these two disasters alone is estimated to exceed USD 40 billion (Australia’s immediate and wider impacts and early US estimates) in both immediate impact and long-term lost productivity. The devastation to the earth, wildlife, as well as the economies of the affected countries is disastrous and, scientists warn, these impacts will only grow in intensity and scale in the coming years. The lasting impact of climate change is also evident in the record temperatures observed in areas like Death Valley in California which saw temperatures hit 54 degrees in August.
The warming of the planet and increasing intensity of disasters will lead to vast swaths of the planet becoming uninhabitable, driving a rise in climate migration with the regions of the planet estimated to be too hot to support human life to rise from 1 to 19% by 2070 . This mass displacement of people will mean billions of migrants seeking homes in the areas of the globe still safe to inhabit, a humanitarian crisis unlike any before.
While the earth has already warmed roughly 1 degree Celsius since the 19th century, there remains time to slow this climb and reduce the scale of our climate crisis in the future. Climate change calls for changes in all areas of life, including construction, urban planning, as well as ower generation and distribution. While the results of the drastic changes necessary will not be apparent for decades, the time for action is now.