It was 38°C on Saturday in Verkhoyansk, eastern Siberia. Never before seen in June in this weather station known to be the coldest in the northern hemisphere. A record that comes against the backdrop of alarming reports of climate disruption that is accelerating in the Arctic regions. Is it already too late?
38 degrees were recorded in Verkhoyansk, Siberia. It had never been hotter beyond the Arctic Circle. The news caused a stir among climatologists, especially on social networks. According to a preliminary reading, 38°C were measured on Saturday in Verkhoiansk, Siberia. If this figure were to be confirmed, it would represent the temperature record so far north of the Arctic Circle. Among the scientists disseminating the information, Mika Rantanen of the Finnish Meteorological Institute, was retweeted by activist Greta Thunberg. "Verkhoyansk, a Russian city in Eastern Siberia known for its exceptionally cold winters, has just beaten its historical heat record with an overwhelming 38°C! The data has been kept since 1885 "wrote the researcher on Twitter.
" If this value is correct, it would not only be an absolute record at the station (37.3°C, 25/07/1988) but also the highest temperature ever observed north of the Arctic Circle! ", tweeted Météo France forecaster Etienne Kapikian.
In a Twitter post, the UN Climate Change Secretariat expresses concern that global warming is accelerating even faster than average in Siberia. « May temperatures in Siberia were up to 10°C above the average at which Permafrost begins to melt. ", alerts the organization.
This record heat confirms the most alarming predictions described in an report published more than a year ago, in March 2019. Packed with maps and figures, it showed us that the situation in the Arctic has reached a stage of irreversibility. The temperature recorders are in constant panic and are making predictions that no one would have dared to bet on: a 3 to 5° increase by 2050 and a 5 to 9° increase by 2080.
Scientists are clear: the Arctic pack ice has melted 40 % since 1979. At this rate, the ice could have disappeared in summer in the Arctic as early as the 2030s. This melting is so significant that it alone would account for a significant portion (30 %) of the global rise in sea level.
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The tragedy is that there is already nothing that can be done to stop this outcome. Even if all the states of the world were suddenly taken to task with a great sense of responsibility and began to respect the terms of the Paris Agreement, that would not be enough. That is one of the strongest conclusions of the UN report.
What happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic
The problem is that the melting of the Arctic is not just about the far north. « What happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic "said Joyce Msuya, co-editor of the report, during the presentation of the document. It has a cascading impact on the entire planet. Among the expected consequences, the melting of permafrost is one of the most dangerous. Indeed, as it melts, this frozen soil will release astronomical quantities of additional greenhouse gases. A fuel that will push the engines of the climate machine beyond the red. This is exactly what climatologists fear: the runaway phenomenon. Because at this stage, nothing is controllable or predictable.
- READ IN UP' : Threats from the Far North
This climatic upheaval will affect all living things. The local populations will be the first to be affected, but also the fauna and flora, which will not escape unscathed. If we add to this polluting emissions, heavy metals, microplastics, territorial conflicts, the invasion of new viruses, etc., the scenario that is taking shape at the Cluster is not that of a light comedy.
Should we give in to fatalism?
Is it necessary to indulge in fatalism and demobilization? The UN rapporteurs call for the objectives of the Paris Agreement to be respected as soon as possible. « The urgency of achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement is clearly evident in the Arctic, as it is one of the most vulnerable and changing regions in the world. "Finnish Environment Minister Kimmo Tiilikainen warns, echoing the Finnish Minister of the Environment, Kimmo Tiilikainen. « We need to significantly reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the short term ... worldwide. ".
To achieve this, the recipes are known: renewable energy; emission reductions; sustainable infrastructure; sustainable agriculture and sustainable management of forests and oceans; ways of resisting the effects of climate change; investment in the green economy, etc. Solutions whose ambition must be commensurate with the stakes. Public opinion around the world realizes the seriousness of the situation. But while many individuals have decided to change their behaviour, governments almost everywhere in the world are delaying, bypassing, quibbling, gossiping, hesitating, but taking no action commensurate with the situation. We have seen with the coronavirus crisis the level of unpreparedness of most governments; will they learn a lesson from it in dealing with the climate crisis?
" In the immediate term, it is clear that it would not be prudent to rely on governments alone to accelerate the movement. "wrote in a column the New Zealand political scientist, professor at the IEA in Nantes, Adrian Macey. But, according to him, one should not sink into despair because there are some glimmers in this very dark picture.
Glimmers of hope
A hope that can be found by looking elsewhere than in the square of the rulers. The global economy has shifted significantly in favour of clean energy as a result of technological advances and market conditions. Even in the absence of non-point or insufficient carbon pricing, overall investments in renewable power plants far exceed those from fossil fuels. The cost of solar power continues to fall, to the point where in many countries coal is no longer competitive.
A glimmer of hope that can also be found on the side of non-state actors: many large companies, cities and local authorities are becoming more and more involved without waiting for governments. About a hundred megacities from all continents are collaborating within the organisation". C40 ». These very large cities are committed to setting themselves on a trajectory corresponding to the objectives of the Paris Agreement. The group " We are still in "(we are still involved) was formed in 2017 in reaction to President Trump's intention to abandon the Paris Agreement. This alliance includes more than two thousand companies and almost three hundred U.S. cities. Its members aim to enforce U.S. commitments on the Paris Accord through their own actions.
Several large companies have taken the turn, willingly or unwillingly. It is true that their audiences, their consumers, would sooner or later encourage them to do so. This is the case for large multinationals such as Microsoft, Apple, Starbucks, Unilever, etc., not to mention all the companies that are now betting on the green strategy, whether it is sincere or subject to market changes. You only have to look at a TV commercial today to see the impressive number of brands that have adopted a "green" discourse. Greenwashing maybe, but at this point in time, it's all good to take.
It must be said that pressure from civil society is increasing. The climate emergency is on everyone's mind and everyone is worried in their own way about the level of heat waves, the quality of the air we breathe or the food we eat. Everyone understands more or less confusedly that the ten or fifteen years ahead of us are those of the last chance. During this time, we will have to review all of our behaviours but also our infrastructures and our modes of transport.
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Attitudes change and that's what can change the world. To be convinced of this, you only need to watch these five minutes of excerpts from a 1979 television programme.
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