Extreme weather hit the headlines throughout 2018, from the heatwave across much of the northern hemisphere, which saw unprecedented wildfires in Sweden, drought in the UK and devastating wildfires in the US, to floods in India and typhoons in south-east Asia.
According to the World Meteorological Organisation, last year was the fourth hottest on record and confirms a trend of rising temperatures that is a clear signal that we are having an effect on the climate. Droughts, floods, fiercer storms and heatwaves, as well as sea level rises, are all expected to increase markedly as a result.
Late in the year there was also the starkest warning yet from scientists of what our future will be if we allow climate change to take hold. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the global body of the world’s leading climate scientists, which has been producing regular reports on the state of climate science since 1988, produced its latest comprehensive overview examining what the future will look like if we undergo 1.5C (2.7F) of warming.
That does not sound like a lot – most people would be hard put to notice a temperature difference of 1.5C – but in climate terms, 1.5C above pre-industrial levels is enough to take us into the danger zone. It would see the mass die-off of coral reefs, the extinction of some species, rising sea levels, wet areas of the world becoming wetter and dry areas drier, and the decline of agricultural productivity across swaths of the globe. Continue reading “‘Momentum is growing’: reasons to be hopeful about the environment in 2019”