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Climate change: Here are the top climate stories in 2021, an year of extremes
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Climate change: Here are the top climate stories in 2021, an year of extremes


The world joined forces to combat climate catastrophes: Scientists published a landmark study that concluded humans are to blame for the crisis; US President Joe Biden entered the Paris Agreement again in the early days his administration; world leaders met at UN climate summit in Glasgow (Scotland) to discuss solutions.

This year’s catastrophes are a sign that the climate crisis is getting worse. We have less time to cut our dependence on fossil fuels and prevent the destruction of the world as we know.

“What we think of climate change is now becoming very individual,” Jennifer Marlon, a Yale School of the Environment climate scientist, stated. CNN previously reported. “It’s no longer far away. It’s in our front yard, in our backyards and in our basements. It’s even in our lungs, as we are inhaling smoke from wildfires.

These are the top ten climate crisis stories for 2021.

10. Historic rain at Greenland’s summit

Rain droplets can be seen on a window looking out from a scientific post at the summit of Greenland in August.
August is a snowy month in Greenland, with precipitation on the summit. It rained as rainFor the first time.

Temperatures at Greenland’s summit rose above freezing for a third time in less that ten years around August 15. Rain fell as rain, and dumped 7billion tons of water onto the ice sheet. This was enough to fill Washington’s Reflecting Pool nearly 250,000x.

According to the The It was the most heavy rainfall on the icesheet since 1950 when records began to be kept. National Snow and Ice Data Center. Scientists predict that it will happen more often: Recent studyThe Arctic region will experience more rain than snow in the 2060-2070 period, which marks a major shift in its precipitation patterns with the planet warming.

Michelle McCrystall, climate researcher at University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, stated that “Things which happen in the Arctic do not specifically stay in Arctic.” “The fact that permafrost melting could lead to an increase in global sea-level rise or an increase of emissions from permafrost, is a global problem and requires a global solution.

9. Texas deep freeze

Camilla Swindle, 19, sits in a shopping cart as she and her boyfriend wait in a long line to stock up at a grocery store in Austin, Texas, on February 16, 2021.
February brought with it a Historical deep freezeTexas, which was also felt in the Central Plains and the Southeast and showed how the climate crisis could produce both hot extremes and cold extremes.

A devastating winter storm swept across the Central United States on February 15th and plunged deep into Texas, a state that was not equipped to deal with a multi-day freeze. Around 4 million people lost power and electricity generation was stopped.

Governor Greg Abbott blamed the power failures on the state’s frozen wind turbines. Ultimately, it is their faultFor the energy crisis
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services (TXDOHS), more than 200 people died in extreme winter weather. However, there are some good news. Buzzfeed does independent analysisPlace the death toll between 500 and 1000.
The economic toll was also catastrophic. The result? Texas comptroller’s bureau reportedThe state may have lost as much as $130billion due to the storm, which prompted the weatherization of its power infrastructure.

8. Three continents have suffered fatal floods

Cars sit in floodwaters following heavy rain in Zhengzhou in China's central Henan province on July 22, 2021.
In just a few weeks, Flash flooding can cause severe and even fatal flash floodingParts of Western Europe, China’s Henan Province and Tennessee were ravaged.
In mid-July severe flooding caused death More than 200 peopleGermany and Belgium. Vast swathes saw 24-hour rainfall totals of approximately 4 to 6 inches in the region, which is more that an average month’s worth.
World Weather Attribution, an international group of scientists that links climate change and weather, FoundHuman-caused climate change made record rainfall up to nine times less likely.
The floods that hit Henan province in China killed countless people. More than 300 people. Zhengzhou was the provincial capital of 12 millions people. It was one of those hardest-hit areas. Many neighborhoods were submerged and passengers were trapped in subway cars that were inundated, holding onto ceiling handles to stay above the water.
The United States is home to a Incredible amount of rainFlash flooding was a result in Tennessee More than 270 homes were destroyedAnd More than two dozen people were killedPeople, including Twins seven months old. State emergency management officials weren’t prepared for the scale of the event. It was made more difficult for emergency managers to reach the flood zone because of the fallen phone lines and washed out roads.

7. The United States rejoins the Paris Agreement

President Joe Biden signs his first executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House on January 20, 2021, in Washington.
Biden signed an executive decree in January just hours after being sworn inJoinThe Paris Agreement, also known as the global climate agreement, was pulled out by Donald Trump while in office.

In April, Biden promised to cut US greenhouse gases emissions by half by 2030. This was in part to honor the country’s renewed membership of the agreement.

Under the Paris Agreement, countries will be expected to monitor and increase their commitments every five years to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emission. The climate accords have the primary goal of limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. A preferred limit is 1.5 degrees.

The United Nations however, says that there is still a need for this. huge gapThere’s a difference between what scientists have predicted and what is actually needed to reduce emissions.

6. UN report: A code red’

Steam rises from the Miller coal Power Plant in Adamsville, Alabama.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN) publishes a new report every six to seven year. Report This summarizes the state-of-climate research. The panel’s most recent report was released in August. Its authors concluded that it is “unequivocal”. Climate crisis is caused by humans That “widespread” and “rapid changes” have already been experienced, some irreversibly.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres The report was called“A code red is for humanity.”
Scientists have stated that the planet is warming faster than it was before industrialization. We are heading towards 1.5 degreesA critical threshold that world leaders agreed should be maintained below in order to prevent worsening effects.

Scientists believe countries must reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by a significant amount while simultaneously removing carbon dioxide. This will stop the rapid trend.

5. Glasgow’s summit of vital importance

In November, world leaders gathered in Glasgow for the UN-brokered summit on climate change known as COP26.

After nearly two weeks worth of negotiations on how to limit global temperature rise, almost 200 countries signed the document. Glasgow Climate PactThis included the first-ever acknowledgement of the contribution that burning fossil fuels has made to perpetuating the climate crisis.

The final pact was a step forward, but it did not reflect the urgency that scientists had called for. Instead of phasing out unabated coal, countries agreed to “phase down” their use of it for power generation. After negotiations on climate financing, funding from wealthy countries to help low-income nations deal with the crisis, fell apart, developing nations were also disappointed.

4. Hurricane Ida

In late August, Category 4 Hurricane IdaMississippi and the surrounding states have destroyed homes, uprooted trees, and cut off power to over 1 million customers. Louisiana has been already devastated by hurricanes.
Ida All boxes checkedScientists say climate change is making hurricanes even more dangerous. They are producing more rain, moving slower once they land and generating more storm surges.
Michael Wilson stands in the doorway to his flood-damaged home after Hurricane Ida made landfall as a Category 4.
The Gulf Coast was not spared from the storm’s destructive effects. As Ida’s remnants made their way inland, flash flood emergencies were created in the Northeast. The storm Breaked the single-hour rainfall recordCentral Park and gave Newark (New Jersey) its wettest ever day.
Flooding Numerous people were killedMany of them drowned in New York City’s basement apartments. Some Ida survivors are located in the city. still displacedThe storm exposed the. dire need To strengthen the city’s infrastructure in the face of the worsening Climate Crisis.
Hurricane Ida caused damage estimated at $60 billion The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimatesThis exceeded the combined cost for the seven most dangerous tropical cyclones of 2020.

3. December tornado outbreak

A series of tornadoes ripped through the Midwestern and Southeastern United States at the end of an already extreme year. They struck on December 12th and 13. Although the last month of the year is usually the quietest for tornadoes due to warm temperatures, it was nonetheless historic.

Kentucky tornadoes destroyed trees and leveled homes. Numerous people were killed of people. Gov. Andy Beshear stated at a news conference, that the tornado event caused “a level of devastation unlike any I have ever seen.”
It’s not clear, however. What role did climate change playScientists believe that every extreme weather phenomenon is affected by global warming, as evidenced by December’s tornado outbreak. Victor Gensini from Northern Illinois University, a top tornado expert, said that the outbreak is one the most extraordinary tornado events in US history.

Gensini stated that statistics show that there has been a shift in tornado frequency. “But these events are becoming stronger, more frequent, and more variable.

2. Heat wave in the Pacific Northwest

In late June, hundreds of people died in British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest from a record heat wave. Scientists say that the heat wave would have set new records for the region’s temperatures.It is almost impossible” without Climate change is human-caused.
CNN was told by expertsMany residents don’t have air conditioning units in this normally temperate region, which is not equipped to withstand extreme heat events. This has led to a lack of air conditioning units in many areas. Hundreds of peopleHeat-related illnesses caused death. Officials later called it the heat wave. Mass casualty Event.
British Columbia saw the same heat wave fuel a fast-moving wildfire. Lytton was wiped outJust one day after the temperature reached 121 degrees, Canada’s all time temperature record was broken.

1. Drought, wildfires, and water shortages

A home is engulfed in flames as the Beckwourth Complex Fire tears through Doyle, California, on July 10, 2021.
The West United States has been engulfed by a series of acute disasters. Multi-year drought that was historicThis is, scientists believe, a clear indication of how the climate crisis affects not only the weather, but also water supply and electricity generation.
California’s summer drought was the worst since records began. most extremeThe state’s 126-year-old record shows July 2021 as being the driest since 1895, when data collection began. More than 95% of West was experiencing drought conditions by August.
After a dry winter, extreme drought this summer, Lake Powell and Lake Mead — two of the largest reservoirs in the country — were drained at alarming levels. The federal government in August Declared a water crisisOn the Colorado RiverFor the first time, mandatory water consumption reductions will be implemented in the Southwest starting in 2022.
The megadrought also fueled wildfires. The Bootleg, Dixie, and Caldor Fires, which are the three largest fires of 2021, have burned approximately 1.6 million acres. This is half the area of Connecticut. Smoke from these fires was blown across the country by high-level winds. Stretching from the West Coast up to New York City.

Scientists say this summer is a preview for what’s to follow: The United Nations’ August Report concluded that droughts that used to happen only once a decade now occur 70% more often.

CNN’s Haley Brink, Judson Jones and Taylor Ward contributed to this story.


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