Frequent extreme weather highlights global warming threat, calls for concerted efforts on Paris accord

Updated 2017-07-20 14:10:23 Xinhua

A series of recent extreme weather conditions worldwide, including the long-lasting heat waves across the northern hemisphere, have served as a dreadful warning on climate change and intensified the urgency to tackle the global problem.

Since the start of this summer, a number of countries and regions have suffered from scorching temperature, drought, heavy rainfall, flood and snowstorm, which have led to various disasters and incidents that severely impacted the lives of people.

Meteorologists are deeply worried, so do the general public. Experts said global warming is the major cause of extreme weather conditions, and warned about further consequences if the current situation doesn't change.

Climate change is more real than ever. It's time to walk the talk.

GLOBAL WARMING IS MAJOR CULPRIT

Deadly flash flood following continuous heat waves in the U.S. State of Arizona, frequent wildfire breakouts in British Columbia of Canada, persistent drought in Italy and Spain, unusual heavy snowfall in the capital of Chile, are among the worrisome weather conditions that have swept across the globe recently.

According to the latest study of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), global warming, not El Nino, remains the main reason for the recent extreme weather conditions worldwide.

Using the climate assessment models of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the WMO predicted that if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, the Earth's average global surface temperature could rise more than 4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, meaning more intense heat waves and more extremely hot days and nights ahead.

The study, which was released this week, warned that many of the assessed cities could see their maximum daily temperatures in summer rise by as much as 6 to 9 degrees Celsius by the year 2100. Paris, for example, will see its average summer daily highs to rise to 29.2 degrees Celsius from 22.7 degrees.

Despite speculations that the recent extreme weather conditions had links to El Nino effects, the WMO clarified in early July that it was not. Statistics from the UN agency show that atmospheric patterns in the east-central equatorial Pacific have continued to reflect neutral El Nino-Southern Oscillation conditions.

"Even without a strong El Nino in 2017, we are seeing other remarkable changes across the planet that are challenging the limits of our understanding of the climate system. We are now in truly uncharted territory," said World Climate Research Program Director David Carlson.

Extreme weather is not the only signal on climate change. One of the biggest recorded iceberg broke off Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf in recent days, as another reminder of the continent's rapid change.

Human-induced climate change has the power to cause a significant rise in sea levels over the next 100 years, said Dr. Valerie Masson-Delmotte, a climate scientist from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

PARIS ACCORD NEEDS INSTANT ACTION

Few would deny the imminent danger of climate change nowadays. Unfortunately, concerted efforts from all parties in the international community are still lacking, despite such a precarious situation.

The landmark Paris Climate Agreement, signed in late 2015 by 195 economies, used to greatly boost global confidence in cracking the hard nut. The accord aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions in a way to keep the rise in the average temperature by no higher than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The implementation of the high-profile accord has, however, been severely hindered by the inconstancy of some parties, especially reflected in the case of U.S withdrawal from the accord in early June.

Even facing mounting criticism, U.S. President Donald Trump hasn't turned around just yet. At the G20 Hamburg Summit earlier this month, major world leaders didn't manage to reach consensus on climate change, with Trump's stance at odds with the other 19.

But, there seems to be a silver lining.

Last week, Trump hinted a possible change in his position over the Paris climate accord from which he withdrew weeks ago. "Something could happen with respect to the Paris accord, let's see what happens," said Trump.

Such uncertainty is not enough. As the world struggles to deal with such a challenging issue, its largest economy, also the second-largest emitter, should play a key role in the center, instead of walking away on its lonely road.

Some have turned to the UN global climate conference to be held in Bonn later this year for potential progress on the implementation of the Paris accord, and whether the United States returns to the accord remains to be seen. Anyhow, the world can't wait long.

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