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Seven Times Year 2021 Rang Alarm Bells about Climate Change and Global Warming

Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that we will see earth's average temperature reach 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels around 2030.

Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that we will see earth's average temperature reach 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels around 2030.

From dragonflies changing the colour of their wings to scientists warning of hostile earth by 2500, 2021 showed the myriad ways climate crisis is changing our planet at a fundamental level.

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, a popular sentiment that has been making rounds on social media is that the coronavirus was unleashed on us by Mother Nature due to the irreversible damage humans are causing her. Though there are no studies to link the two events directly, it is true that deforestation and global warming can create conditions conducive to the transmission of hitherto unknown viruses to human beings. Even if this sentiment did not exist, 2021 was littered with many shrill climate change alarms that are forcing countries to look up and take notice. Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that we will see earth’s average temperature reach 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels around 2030, a decade earlier than projected only three years ago.

The report, prepared by 234 scientists from 66 countries, highlights that human influence has warmed the climate at a rate that is unprecedented in at least the last 2,000 years. In response to this, nations took a range of decisions in the collective effort to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November. All round the year, studies have shown that tangible effects of climate crisis are much nearer to our backyards than previously thought.

Here are seven of the big and small ways climate change is being felt across the world:

Wings change colour: It was found that male dragonflies are changing the colour of their wings to adjust to rising temperatures. In a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a group of scientists have found that male dragonflies are exhibiting changes in the pigmentation of their wings as a coping mechanism against rising temperatures. Having dark pigmentation on the wings can increase the body temperature of dragonflies by as much as 2 degrees Celsius. Although the pigmentation originally served the purpose of helping dragonflies find mates, global warming could also cause them to overheat in regions that are already hot. Researchers found that male dragonflies almost always responded to warmer temperatures by evolving less wing pigmentation.

Indian cities underwater: Thanks to climate change, a few Indian cities might be under water in less than nine years from now. A new study from Climate Central, a nonprofit research group, shows that roughly 50 major coastal cities will have to immediately start “unprecedented” adaptation measures to prevent rising seas from swallowing them. On its new Coastal Risk Screening Tool, where the projections show which are risked to be below sea levels up to 2150, even the closest depiction of 2030 paints a dangerous picture for some Indian cities – especially in the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala and West Bengal.

Warmest winter: In the meantime, New Zealand recorded its warmest winter this year. For the three months through August, the average temperature was 9.8 Celsius (50 Fahrenheit), according to New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research. That’s 1.3C above the long-term average and 0.2C higher than the previous record posted last year. Scientists said that the changes are also putting pressure on natural ecosystems and over time, more species would face extinction.

First-ever rainfall in Greenland: Greenland situated near the north pole received precipitation not in the form of snow but as rain – for the first time in recorded history. This shows that rising temperatures have drastically changed the weather patterns in the otherwise cold region.

A hostile earth by 2500: A research has shown that the earth may turn into a completely different planet by 2500. The study, published in Global Change Biology, paints a haunting picture of the earth that will turn hostile towards its own residents. Their findings have revealed that unless greenhouse gas emissions drop significantly, global warming by 2500 will make the Amazon rainforests barren, the American Midwest a tropical zone, and the Indian subcontinent too hot to be habitable by humans.

Double heat in just 14 years: Scientists at NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA) in the United States have found that the rate at which the earth’s atmosphere traps heat has doubled over a recent period of 14 years, 2005 – 2019. If this energy imbalance grows further in the coming decades, it could lead to more alarming climate changes.

Last-ditch attempt to save glacier: A cloth sheet was used to shield part of the Helags glacier in northern Sweden over the summer saved at least 3.5 metres in height from melting, according to organisers of the private initiative, the first of its kind in Scandinavia. Global warming is causing glaciers to shrink all over the world.

We should have listened to her some 100 years ago. Is it still possible to slow down this juggernaut to extinction?

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first published:December 14, 2021, 09:52 IST