At the beginning of 2022, not only is the COVID-19 pandemic still with us, but the devastating effects of climate change during 2021, had disrupted our world. Now, more than ever before, we are precariously close to the tipping point from which there will be no return and urgent action should be taken by every person on the Planet.
The biggest wake-up calls were experienced with devastatingly heat waves, more frequent and widespread wildfires, extreme rainfall and flash floods. Record Arctic sea ice and glaciers meltdown, the rise of sea levels and oceanic acidification also reached historical highs. More snow, drought and cyclones also managed to uproot the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across the globe, not even taking into account the devastation it brought to the animal population.
Across North America and in South Eastern Europe, especially Greece and Italy, had experienced the highest summer temperatures ever recorded, leading to several fatalities. Turkey saw the worst and most devastating wildfires in at least a decade. In the Mediterranean, 95 000 hectares of land were destroyed and eight people killed. The cost of these disasters had not been fully calculated as farmers lost entire stocks and herds. Greece had now set up a special Climate Change Ministry as a result.
In Canada, where it is icy in winter and pleasant in summer, 62 fires in 24-hours were recorded with 90% of the town of Lytton destroyed. As many as 50 of Russia’s Siberian towns, considered the coldest on the Planet, had been devastated by fire in which 1 million hectares of land were burnt down. The smoke generated by these fires forced people to stay indoors and these towns came to a virtual standstill.
Across Western Europe, especially in Germany and Belgium, an increase in rainfall saw the region battle extreme flash floods. It is estimated that more than 180 people were killed and that the economic losses amounted to more than $20 billion.
The Henan Province of China experienced its heaviest rainfall event in a millennia, killing at least 25 people and displacing more than a million residents. In one hour, the city of had 201.9 mm of rainfall, more than the annual average.
Arctic Sea Ice and Glaciers Meltdown
More mass was lost in 2021 due to rising global temperatures and prolonged heat waves in Greenland as temperatures rose by 20C above average. During July, 27 billion tons of surface mass was lost, the equivalent of covering America’s Florida State under water. It is directly linked to extensive regional wildfire activity in summer 2021.
Tropical Cyclones and Extreme Cold
Hurricane and cyclones battered the US Gulf Coast in late August, with horrific destruction in its wake. Even cities such as New York saw record hourly rainfalls.
Despite extreme heat wave events, certain parts of the world experienced the coldest temperature in human history. Abnormally cold conditions affected many parts of central USA and northern Mexico measuring −25.6 C. Dallas in Texas, a notoriously warm area, recorded the lowest temperatures since 1949.
And still, coal-fuelled power generation is set to jump an average of 9% from 2020. South Africa is still set on this earth-destroying energy supply, while according to an International Energy Agency, coal in the US and the EU rose 20%. In India it increased by 12% and China, the world’s largest consumer, at 9%. This can be attributed to rising gas prices, making coal more cost competitive.
Deforestation is at an all-time high in the Amazon rainforest as Brazil’s president continues to allow illegally logging, mining and destruction of forests. Even UNESCO protected forests are emitting more carbon dioxide than it is absorbing from the atmosphere due to increasing deforestation and wildfires.
THE GOOD NEWS
Globally, sales of Electric Vehicles (EV) rose to almost 6 million last year, up by 80% from 2020. Most of these are true zero-emission vehicles (ZEV’s), either battery-electric or fuel-cell driven.
Poaching has declined as a result of enhanced protection efforts across Africa and a landmark wildlife trafficking Bill was passed by Hong Kong, renowned for wildlife trade and trafficking. Henceforth animal trafficking in this country would be regarded as serious and organised crime.
While the cons still outrank the pros, the global community is uniting towards creating a planet-friendly future and finding respectful ways of treating the Earth.