The past year saw an increase in extreme weather events. These included devastating flooding and wildfires that ravaged areas near the frontline of the country. Climate crisis
Scientists with the Climate Crisis Advisory Group told i that these destructive episodes are worsened by climate change, and that vital areas of biodiversity including the Amazon rainforest in South America – described as the lungs of the earth – are reaching the point of no return.
Global warming is making North America hotter than ever, leading to record-breaking heatwaves and unprecedented rainfall.
Here are some places that are most affected by the climate crisis.
The Arctic sea-ice is melting According to the World Wide Fund for Nature charity (WWF), it has been declining at a rate of almost 13% per decade and its oldest and thickest glaciers have declined by 95% in the past 30 years.
Dr Tero Mustonen is co-founder of Snowchange Cooperative, a Finnish NGO that works with indigenous communities across Arctic. He stated that sea level rise remains a priority and that governments are not prepared for the worst.
“The rise in the sea levels often gets discussed in centimetres and certain amounts, but what we don’t really discuss is how do we quickly evacuate Shanghai or New York City?” he said. “This becomes then a military process, because only the military has the capacity to deploy assets that would be getting people out of harm’s way.”
The Arctic region, especially Siberia, has seen extreme heat and dry weather, which has fueled massive forest fires. Additionally, the melting of permafrost is causing an increase in methane emissions.
If climate change continues unabated then “millions will die”, with animal species and coastal cities lost, said Dr Mustonen.
He said that “a billion animals lost their lives in the fires” in places including Australia and Siberia in recent years, adding that blazes were “getting worse because of climate change”.
This summer, the US and Canada’s Pacific north-west experienced deadly heatwaves that were followed by massive wildfires.
Canada’s blistering temperatures saw Lytton, a village with 250 inhabitants in British Columbia, was almost completely destroyedBy wildfires After June’s record-breaking 49.6C temperatures,.
Lytton resident Dr. Mustonen stated that the heat was unexpected and highlighted the uncertainty surrounding the future given the runaway climate.
“Nobody has the map, we may have wonderful modelling and calculations, but the only thing you can essentially say is – because of precautionary principle – we should be taking all these actions today,” he said.
Lytton was struck by what Dr Mustonen called a “once in a 100-year flood” five months later, when British Columbia was severely impacted by an “atmospheric river” – a large, narrow stream of water vapour that travels through the atmosphere, acting as a pipe in the sky.
British Columbia was hit hard by November downpours that caused landslides, resulting in Lytton being isolated even further.
Dr Mustonen warned of rising sea level risks for the East Coast of America due to rapid melting of ice sheet.
“Expected sea level rise on the eastern seaboard of the US will now happen in a vacuum, in the context that we will expect more devastating hurricanes and waves that will be much higher than we have currently,” he said.
The largest rainforest in the world covers roughly 40 per cent of South America, and is home to 10 per cent of Earth’s known species and possibly thousands more that are yet to be discovered.
It is one of the world’s carbon sinks – places that absorb more carbon from the atmosphere than it releases – and plays an important part in regulating the world’s oxygen.
Due to accelerated deforestation, some parts of the rainforest have become carbon sources. This means they emit more carbon than what they absorb. Deforestation and illegal logging continue after soils have been poisoned by oil exploration and gold mining.
Professor Mercedes Bustamante, a biologist at the University of Brasilia in the country’s capital, said the Amazon is hurtling towards “the tipping point – the point of no return”, which could come within 20 years.
She said: “It won’t be like the savannah that we now know, but a forest with an open canopy, much more drier and less productive.
“We are already seeing the ecosystems are changing very quickly.
“We could reach tipping point maybe in two or three decades for part of the forest.”
Leaders of Sinking islands in the Pacific, including Tuvalu and Palau, made impassioned pleas at the COP26 climate summit for rich nations to set up a “loss and damage” fund to help them avert or minimise the impact of climate change.
Rising sea levels are threatening the existence of these low-lying islands, despite their contribution to only a small fraction of global emissions.
October’s COP26 meeting saw countries only agree to a dialogue on the fund. Leaders from Pacific Island nations were disappointed that it didn’t go far enough. Climate pact in Glasgow
The pledges to reduce emissions will limit climate change to 2.4°C is well above the target of 1.5, and above pre-industrial levels°C, said David Panuelo, president of Micronesia.
Dr Mustonen warned that the frontline for the climate crisis is growing and that soon the problems in the Pacific will be greater.
“The planet is reorganising herself, what we should be mostly concerned about is how do human systems cope. That’s a world we can control,” he said.
“We can’t do much about the oceans, there’s not much we can do about Greenland or Antarctic, the loss of ice cover.
“How do we find a space where everybody will agree on the urgency? We certainly didn’t see that in Glasgow.”