On World Environment Day and Ecologists’ Day, it is advisable to remember today’s climate problems and think about what awaits us in the near future.
Climate and weather are two different things.
Let’s start with the question: why are we talking about global warming, and this May in Russia turned out to be the coldest of the last 23 years? The answer here lies in the question itself: global warming and May weather in Russia are local.
The weather is characterized by air temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, cloudy, rainfall, wind speed. And the climate – all the same indicators, only on average for a certain period.
Global warming is a long-term increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s climate system. And it is not surprising that in May, when it was cold here, in Germany, for example, it was hot, and somewhere else it was also colder than usual. This does not contradict global warming, as a long-term change in global weather conditions on our planet.
Climate change is seriously changing people’s lives. For example, in the early Middle Ages, when the average air temperature in Europe dropped by 7-10 degrees Celsius, this led to the Great Migration of Nations and the fall of the Roman Empire.
In addition, in the IV century BC. μι. Theophrastus, the first botanist in the history of mankind, observed the effect of human activity on the climate. He found that the drying of swamps leads to local cooling and more frequent frosts in winter, while deforestation affects the local climate by increasing the average air temperature.
As for modern global warming – the result of the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere, then, as we know, to the previous factors that pose a threat – agriculture, deforestation, a more important and dangerous – was added – fuel combustion. As a result, the amount of greenhouse gases is now greater than ever.
Why is the climate crisis getting worse now?
Climate change is an existential threat to the whole world, which is long overdue. The damage from climate change is increasing all over the world. More than 3 billion people already live in regions and countries that are particularly vulnerable to climate change. They are threatened by floods and heat, freshwater holidays and food. By 2040, 3% to 14% of all terrestrial species will generally be on the verge of extinction. On average, the planet warms by 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade. And, as Russian climatologists say, in 20-30 years, heat waves will become a problem even in cold Russia.
Global greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 45% as early as this decade to keep the planet warmer than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Now, for obvious reasons, fewer and fewer remember the climate crisis. However, it did not go anywhere. In addition, it is deteriorating and may in the near future develop into a complex planetary crisis, which will be even more difficult to deal with.
Let’s start with the very specific environmental consequences of what is happening in Ukraine. Due to the bombings that destroy buildings and other infrastructure, the ground is contaminated. Petroleum products and hazardous chemicals enter seawater. Water supply systems are being destroyed. Forests are burning.
But there are also less obvious environmental consequences. Supply chains are disrupted, threatening global food security. Crop and fertilizer shortages are fraught with malnutrition and even starvation for tens of millions of people around the world.
And the link between hunger and climate is immediate: restrictions on the supply of wheat and fertilizer from Russia and Ukraine to world markets have prompted Latin American countries to consider increasing their own food and fertilizer production. To do this, it is possible to cut huge areas of tropical rainforest. These forests are not just traditional soils for the life and management of local indigenous peoples. Tropical trees actively absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
And the climate agenda is no longer a priority for the governments of the world’s top countries. It is obvious that the programs to solve the problem of global warming will be put on hold.
One of the main solutions to the climate problem was considered a “green” energy transition – that is, the gradual abandonment of traditional “dirty” energy sources (oil, gas and coal) in favor of renewable “clean” (for example, wind and solar power).
In part, as we know, people already use both solar and wind energy. However, it takes a lot of time and money for the global economy to carry them.
Western countries are now targeting the rejection of Russian energy carriers. In the long run, this may push the trend towards “green” energy, towards energy efficiency, ie a reduction in the level of energy consumption, especially its irrational use. And in the short term, states will have to buy oil from each other. Energy prices on the world market will rise significantly, as will prices on the production of many goods, which will affect the well-being of people around the world. In order to resolve the energy issue during the transition period, the possibility of a return to coal energy, which is considered the most harmful to climate change, is also being discussed.
Here in Russia, it is also possible that the oil, gas, coal and electricity industries under sanctions will not be able to meet the previously announced targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition, Russian companies are calling for a relaxation of their emissions control rules, which are already among the most lenient in the world. Several Russian oil companies and refineries (including Lukoil) have proposed switching Russian thermal power plants from natural gas to fuel oil – due to Western sanctions, Russia is facing an oversupply of oil products and a lack of mass storage capacity. This will cause great damage to the environment: it will increase the greenhouse effect and harm human health.
In addition, they were allowed to produce cars of all environmental categories, including Euro 0, a thirty-year standard. This will definitely affect the quality of the air we breathe and increase the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
In a word, we all live on a common planet and have more common problems than is commonly believed. The consequences of misguided government decisions outweigh other global risks and reinforce them.
Solving the climate problem is humanity’s opportunity to build a new better world. The desire to get out of the climate crisis is something that will eventually unite all the countries of the world at the political, economic and technological level at the same time. The main thing is that this happens before the onset of an irreparable ecological disaster.