Despite the death of thousands due to this summer’s extreme weather, rich and poor nations cannot agree on a formula for emissions reductions.
One fifth of the country of Pakistan is under water. Roads, buildings, bridges, crops have all been washed away. With no clean water to drink, cholera, diarrhea and other sicknesses are on the rise, threatening millions of people who have lost their homes and their livelihoods.
After the floods in Pakistan that destroyed 6000 villages and killed almost 2000 the country’s Environment Minister Hameed Ullah Jan Afridi said that global warming was the main cause.
In Russia 562 fires covering over 80,000 hectares (nearly 200,000 acres) created unbearable smog in Moscow. Morgues have been overflowing as the death rate in the Russian capital has doubled to more than 700 people a day prompting the country’s President Dmitry Medvedev to say, ”what is happening now in our Central Regions is evidence of this global climate change.” He also said, “All countries, including developed and developing countries, should reach an agreement [on climate issues]”.
Although individual weather occurances cannot be taken on their own as scientific corroboration of global warming, when put together as a whole the case is very convincing. It is no coincidence that most of the hottest years on record have occured in the last decade. According to an analysis by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), some of the warmest years on record are 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2009. It should come as no surprise that January 2000 to December 2009 was the warmest decade on record.
The first half of 2010 is the warmest since records began in the 1850s. These first six months of 2010 broke records on four continents and included some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded on earth. On May 26, Pakistan logged a mercury reading of 128.3 degrees Fahrenheit (53.5 degrees Celsius) the highest ever recorded in Asia.
Recently, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) reported that water temperatures reaching as high as 93 degrees Fahrenheit in Southeast Asia’s Andamann Sea have led to a large die-off of coral reefs off the coast of Indonesia.
The growing body of evidence is increasingly irrefutable. We have reason to believe that the globe is at risk yet rich and poor nations continue to disagree about how to divide greenhouse gas emissions-reductions.
Despite the veracity of global warming, efforts to make progress on an international climate change treaty are being stiffled by what can only be described as post-colonial gridlock.
If deadly floods and choking fires are not sufficient to spur movement on climate change, one wonders exactly what it will take to cause nations to act.