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ENVIRONMENT

Last Decade Confirmed Hottest On Record

March for climate change outside of the UN climate summit COP25 in Madrid, Spain. Date: 12/6/19. (Photo: Friends of the Earth International)
March for climate change outside of the UN climate summit COP25 in Madrid, Spain. Date: 12/6/19. (Photo: Friends of the Earth International)

“What’s happening is persistent, not a fluke due to some weather phenomenon. We know that the long-term trends are being driven by the increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”

The last ten years were the hottest decade on record, according to Nasa, Noaa and the UK Met Office, and scientists expect that the coming decade will be even hotter and suffer more extreme weather events.

“What’s happening is persistent, not a fluke due to some weather phenomenon. We know that the long-term trends are being driven by the increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told Al Jazeera.

Climate change has recently been in headlines for the record-breaking Australian bushfires which have killed over two dozen, destroyed thousands of properties, and is estimated to have killed more than a billion animals. Ocean temperatures were also reported to have hit a record high this week.

Business leaders like Blackrock’s Larry Fink warn that climate effects such as rising sea levels and extreme weather will also devastate the global financial system, leaving insurance companies unable to cover assets and carbon-sensitive assets vulnerable to severe devaluation.

“Unfortunately, we expect to see much extreme weather throughout 2020 and the coming decades, fuelled by record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” said World Meteorological Organization (WMO) chief Petteri Taalas. “On the current path of carbon dioxide emissions, we are heading towards a temperature increase of 3-5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.”

The earth’s rapid heating comes as U.S. President Donald Trump publicly denies climate change, slashes environmental regulations, and rapidly develops new fossil fuel infrastructure.

Eminent scholar Noam Chomsky has called the Trump administration’s internal admissions of the reality of the climate crisis “the most astonishing document in the history of the human species.”

“The National Transportation Administration came out with what I think is the most astonishing document in the entire history of the human species. It got almost no attention. It was a long 500-page environmental assessment in which they tried to determine what the environment would be like at the end of the century,” Chomsky told the Intercept’s Mehdi Hasan.

“And they concluded, by the end of the century, temperatures will have risen seven degrees Fahrenheit, that’s about twice the level that scientists regard as feasible for organized human life. The World Bank describes it as cataclysmic. So what’s their conclusion? Conclusion is we should have no more constraints on automotive emissions. The reasoning is very solid. We’re going off the cliff anyway. So why not have fun? Has anything like that ever appeared in human history? There’s nothing like it.”

Scientists warn that policymakers should immediately transition to clean energy to avoid catastrophic warming.

“If we look at all the impacts around the world that are now occurring as a result of this warming, it is obvious that we are not succeeding in preventing dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system,” Bob Ward of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science told Al Jazeera.

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Peter Castagno

Peter Castagno is a staff writer and assistant editor at Citizen Truth.

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