The impacts of climate change could get a lot worse if urgent measures are not instituted

Extreme weather: India faces ‘unusual heat wave’, records year’s hottest days

Parts of India are suddenly in the deadly grip of an “unusual heat wave”. Experts have warned there will be no relief in the coming weeks. In Kerala the heat wave, caught “forecasters by surprise”. Four people are dead and almost 300 people have suffered from sunburns. Heat is expected to worsen in New Delhi, which recorded 39°C on Saturday (a maximum of 33°C is more common in Delhi in early April). “Dangerously high” temperatures of 40-43°C are expected in Rajkot, Ahmedabad and Nagpur this week, AccuWeather reported.

Times of India quoted an official from a local Surat hospital as saying that the number OPD patients has shot up from 350 to 430 with most complaining of headache, vomiting and uneasiness. Such high temperatures are usually expected in late April or May ahead of the monsoon, reported Indian Express. Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and eastern Maharashtra are expected to be affected the most with the highest temperatures ranging between 43 to 46°C.

Finally, IMD has declared weak El Nino conditions (unusual warming of equatorial Pacific Ocean). El Nino triggers heat waves and decline in the monsoon rain, which mostly leads to droughts. Experts say the current heat wave conditions are actually not so sudden. Down to Earth reported that weather agencies in other countries had declared weak El Nino conditions in January 2019. In India, the El Nino impact was evident early March, when Tamil Nadu’s Dharmapuri recorded a temperature of 40.2°C, Andhra Pradesh’s Tirupati and Cuddapah touched 40.4°C and 40°C, respectively.

The heat wave has also spread to Gujarat and Maharashtra, with Pune recording 40.8° C. Vidarbha was worst hit with temperatures soaring to 44°C in Akola, 43°C in Nagpur and Amravati and 43°C in Yavatmal. Heat waves are the third-highest cause for deaths among natural disasters in India, after lightning strikes and earthquakes; but the Indian government does not consider it to be  a natural calamity.

Leaked report: Canada warming at twice the global rate

A leaked government report says Canada, on an average, has warmed twice the rate of the rest of the world, and northern Canada has warmed nearly three times the global average. The report, Canada’s Changing Climate Report (CCCR), which was slated to be released on Tuesday, says that since 1948, Canada’s annual average temperature over land has warmed 1.7°C, with higher rates seen in the North, the Prairies and northern British Columbia, reported CBC news.

In Northern Canada, the annual average temperature has increased by 2.3°C, according to the report. The study says because of this heating, Canada is experiencing an increase in precipitation mainly in winter, “extreme fire weather” and water shortages in summer, and the country is at risk of coastal flooding.

The leak has surfaced amid Canada’s implementation of carbon-pricing plan in Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan. Ottawa has imposed a fuel levy in these provinces as a backstop because they don’t have carbon-pricing schemes of their own in place. The report blames the warming mainly on greenhouse gas emissions saying “human factor is dominant” in the temperature increases.

The grim predictions in the report warn that the only way to keep the warming to Paris accord targets is for “global emissions to peak almost immediately, with rapid and deep reductions thereafter.” The report also predicts that under a medium-emission scenario, glaciers in Canada’s west will lose between 74% and 96% of their volume by 2100.

UN report: Extreme weather affected 62 million people in 2018

The UN weather agency has revealed the exact number of people directly bearing the brunt of extreme cyclones, floods and droughts caused by global warming. The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said in 2018, 62 million people were hit by extreme weather resulting from climate change, while two million people were forced to leave their homes worldwide. The WMO said the trend of man-made extreme weather has accelerated because of warming. Scientists said the deadly trend has  continued into 2019, killing hundreds of people, most recently in floods and a cyclone in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. The WMO report also said sea levels reached the highest point on record in 2018.

Cyclone Idai rings ‘alarm bell’ on climate change: UN chief

UN chief Antonio Guterres has said “an uncommonly fierce and prolonged storm”,

Cyclone Idai, which  flattened the city of Beira in Mozambique, rings “yet another alarm bell” for  climate change. Scientists say global warming is causing more extreme rainfall and storms, sweltering heatwaves, shrinking harvests and worsening water shortages around the world. The storm unfolded in the backdrop of the Africa Climate Week in Ghana, where the delegates acknowledged that the storm highlights an urgent need for  climate finance and countries need mechanisms to deal with extreme disasters, which will become more frequent because of climate change.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) says the cost of financing these solutions is $23 trillion by 2030, estimating the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) of 21 emerging market economies, Down to Earth reported. Over 700 people have died because of the storm and survivors are facing deadly cholera and diarrhoea, reported Reuters.

Alaska hits earliest 70°F readings on record

The “Last Frontier” of Alaska continues to record its hottest days. Klawock, in southeastern Alaska, reached 70°F (21.11°C)  on March 19, the earliest ever high to have occurred at any site in the state, CNN reported. While the rest of America is witnessing a fall in temperatures, Alaska was sizzling with record highs. More records are expected to be broken with temperatures soaring as much as 10°C above normal in the fastest-warming state, Alaska. Boston, one of the northern cities of the US, which officially declared the onset of spring a week ago, has still not reached 70-degrees.

Town that houses ‘Doomsday Vault’ warming the fastest

The world’s northernmost town, Longyearbyen in Norway, located 800 miles from the North Pole, and is home to the doomsday vault’ which stores specimens of almost all the the world’s crop seeds, is warming faster than any other in the world. The Norwegian town is built on permanently frozen ground called permafrost. The town’s rising temperature is causing the permafrost soil to melt, damaging buildings as they sink into the ground, CNN reported.

The annual mean temperature in Longyearbyen in 1900 was -7.8°C. Since then, it has risen by 3.7°C – more than three times the global average of around 1°C, CNN reported. Experts say the Svalbard seed vault was built to protect the seeds in the event of war, famine, disease and climate change.

Killer frog disease ‘part of Earth’s sixth mass extinction’

Latest research has revealed that the disease chytridiomycosis, has killed a large number of frogs, toads and salamanders over the past 50 years, and led to the extinction of 90 species. Researchers say a fungus that kills amphibians is responsible for the biggest documented loss of nature from a single disease, reported the BBC. Scientists say the world urgently needs to improve biosecurity and wildlife trade restrictions are needed to prevent more extinction.

The killer disease has spread to over 60 countries, mainly in Australia, Central America and South America, the study said.

Melting glaciers on Mount Everest expose dead bodies

Human-induced global warming that is melting the Himalayan glaciers has now begun to expose the bodies of mountaineers who have died on Everest over the years. Ever since the first attempt to scale Mount Everest, 300 climbers have died on the peak and two-third of the bodies are still believed to be buried under the snow. As the glaciers melt away, Everest expedition operators are concerned with the number of bodies that are becoming exposed, reported the BBC.

Researchers in 2018 drilled the Khumbu Glacier and found the ice to be warmer than expected. “The ice recorded a minimum temperature of only −3.3°C, with even the coldest ice being a full 2°C warmer than the mean annual air temperature,” the report said.

Study: Climate change is killing India’s crop productivity, labour efficiency

Latest research by the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, has warned that climate change is reducing India’s crop productivity and efficiency of labour. The research says that India’s duration of cropping season is increasing, but it cannot be correlated to increase in crop production since the temperatures are rising quickly. Scientists said the summer season is encroaching into the winter season, which is causing a sharp drop in the length of “pleasant comfortable days”, especially over the northeast and southern India (warm-humid) regions, reported the Hindu.

The newspaper quotes the researches saying: “The drastic and joint increase in the day and night temperatures will be a major threat to crop cultivation in India. Especially the largest wheat production states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh will be severely affected due to the increase in night-time temperature, particularly in winters.”

Climate change 50-75 years out, says EPA

Contaminated drinking water is a more immediate environmental threat than climate change, according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Andrew Wheeler. While speaking to the American broadcasting network CBS last week, Wheeler said the climate change threat was “50 to 75 years out”, while unsafe drinking water is “killing 1,000 children every day worldwide”. “That’s a crisis that I think we can solve. We know what goes into solving a crisis like that. It takes resources, it takes infrastructure, and the United States is working on that,” Wheeler said.

According to American newspaper and website, The Hill, however, Wheeler’s comments contradict an October report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which predicted the atmosphere will heat up by 1.5°C by 2040 and that countries had 12 years to stop greenhouse gas emissions to prevent irreparable effects of climate change.

The comments also come at a time when extreme weather events are wreaking havoc, more recently in Mozambique where a cyclone is reported to have killed more than 1,000 people, and the floods in mid-west America.

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