The top climate stories of 2021 ranged in their range from withdrawal from EV-range anxiety to failures made by world leaders to secure pathways for a slower global warming. Throughout the year, it was evident that the climate crisis was prominent in many people’s minds. Progress was too slow for lots of us, but there were cleantech innovations, increased conservation efforts, calls to limit deforestation, species protection, and a strong climate activist voice — all of which pressed power brokers to transcend politics and big business.
Is the momentum shifting? Maybe…
Here are the Top Climate Stories 2021 – Part 1.
COP26 Failed to Align Climate Goals & Big Business
The goal of 1.5 degrees maximum global warming temperature rise was barely alive after October’s COP26 — the biggest UN climate summit since the 2015 Paris agreement. In Glasgow, Scotland, nearly 200 world leaders, activists, and celebrities met to discuss climate change and emissions trading.
But the End result was disappointing at best. China and India made a last-minute, successful change to the agreements on the last day of the summit. Weakening the language about coal. As they raced for the airport the delegates promised to revise and strengthen their climate targets before the end of 2022.
Research afterward from the UN estimated that countries’ short term climate commitments put the world on a path to warm 2.5 degrees Celsius, or 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit. This is one full degree more than the 1.5-degree target, which scientists consider the upper limit of global warming necessary to avoid the worst effects from the climate crisis.
Activists protested against the ineffective climate action at COP26. Most famously, an 18-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg, one of the world’s best known climate campaigners, called out world leaders for failing to meet their goals to address global warming. “No more blah, blah, blah,” said Thunberg, imploring people in power across the world to act with more urgency in tackling harmful emissions.
We now know that Biodiversity loss is connected to the Climate Crisis
Diversity of animals and plants creates a gestalt which makes the planet work. It ensures that there is oxygen in our atmosphere and fertile soils for crops to grow. The March issue of the Dasgupta ReviewPut biodiversity at its core, and demonstrated how economics and ecology can be combined to achieve this. The natural world could be saved — but we’re at the outer edge of timing to do so. Biodiversity loss has been identified as one of 3 planetary crises — the others are climate change and a human health crisis. They all point us in the right direction. Ecological disaster. All of these are driven by economic activities, and they all reinforce each other.
Why is there so much biodiversity decline?
- Humans are destroying habitats through activities like mining, farming, and logging.
- Overfishing can cause irreversible damage to interconnected ocean systems.
- Introduced species and pollution drive out native species.
We must work together to find solutions that are not only interconnected but also separate. Unprecedented climate and biodiversity changes, triggered by human activities, are now threatening nature, human lives and livelihoods around the globe. This was the main theme of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services ReportIt was issued in June.
The average amount of native species in major terrestrial biomes has dropped by at least 20%, mainly since 1900. The rapid disappearance of carbon-trappingMangroves and seagrasses are good for carbon storage, but they also expose coastlines to storm surges or erosion. Have you ever heard of the flat pigtoe, the turgid-blossom pearly, or the stirrupshell mussels? Two freshwater fish, the Scioto madtom and the San Marcos gambusia are also worth mentioning: These Like many other species, this species went extinct.Before most of us knew their names.
Research in the EU outlined how climate change is one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss, but destruction of ecosystems also undermines nature’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to protect against extreme weather, thus accelerating climate change and increasing vulnerability to it. This is why all crises must be addressed together and not in silos.
The Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBDIn March 2022, the meeting of the working group responsible for developing the post 2020 global biodiversity framework and the scientific and implementation bodies will be held. The US is the only country, other than the Vatican, that is not a signatory to the underlying treaty.
Devastating Weather Events Made the Climate Crisis Up Front & Personal
It is no longer NIMBY is relevant when discussing climate crisis. At least one-third of people around the world experienced a weather disaster over the summer — I experienced the residues of 4 hurricanes in my jaunt to New England. This was the 6th consecutive year of Atlantic hurricane activity that was higher than average.
Some believe the link between extreme weather events and the climate crisis requires more research. Bill McKibbenOf 350.org counters, saying, “This is so frightening is that it suggests fundamental parts of the way that the planet works have begun to shift, allowing for physical phenomena we’ve never seen before.”
- Texas blackouts in February were the result of severe winter storms. This revealed that the region was experiencing an unlikely energy crisis. Blame went out toFreezing wind turbinesThe real culprit was frigid temperature that stalled natural gaz production.
- California Dixie fire ignited plumes of smoke in mid-summer and quickly heated the atmosphere above it. The air began to rise quickly. Chimney-like fireclouds attracted water particles and grew into Pyrocumulonimbus, or pyroCb — fire-fueled thunderstorms. In Siberia and Turkey, wildfires erupted out of control.
- Floods wreaked havoc in Germany and China.
- A Record-breaking heat waveIt was in the Pacific Northwest and Canada.
- Record-breaking rainsThe east coast of the US was affected by hurricane winds. Hurricane winds swept through Louisiana, destroying homes and displacing thousands.
- December tornadoes and windsstorms decimated parts of the US. Global warming is closely linked.
Range Anxiety? Not Anymore — One of the Top Climate Stories 2021
Vice President Kamala Harris and other Biden Administration officials presented a plan to create a national network for 500,000 electric vehicle chargers. A special emphasis was placed on charging infrastructure in rural and disadvantaged areas. A Joint Office of Energy and Transportation was created as part of the effort to speed up the rollout of electric vehicle.
What are the benefits? Expanding your home, workplace, or public charging needsTo support the US’s transition to EVs in 2030 A ReportCharging Up America described a series of steps required for EV charging infrastructures that are commonplace, easy to access, and worry-free. It was announced, as part the recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs ActTwo new electric vehicle programs will be funded to address climate change through reducing carbon emissions. The National Electric Vehicle Program (or EV Charging Program) will provide funding for the States to strategically deploy EV charger infrastructure and to establish an interconnected network for data collection, access, reliability, and reliability.
It’s reallyIt’s hard to argue againstYou can recharge your car at home without having to travel to a station. It is quiet, reliable and fun to drive. Mercedes announced last summer that it would be launching an electric vehicle (EV) with a 600 mile range. This should make range anxiety go away.
Final Thoughts About the Top Climate Stories for 2021
As I was researching topics for this article it became clear that there were too many top climate stories in 2021 to fit into one article. That’s a very sad commentary on this moment in time, especially considering the disinformation and denial that surrounds the climate crisis.
Global powers deceived their citizens and themselves by claiming that curbing fossil fuel emission could be put off. Now it’s 30 years later, and United Nations scientific reportsWe cannot stop global warming’s intensification. This is the clear message. We must make the most of this time to prevent the most terrible future. We are clearly in an existential crisis.
In Part 2, I’ll continue to explore the Top Climate Stores 2021, helping all of us to see the big picture of what the climate crisis looks like at this moment in time as well as actions being taken to mitigate its deadly effects.
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