Photo: Chief Yeoman Alphonso Braggs, US-Navy/Wikimedia Commons
With several days of cloudy skies, snowfall and rains this winter may have given the impression that traditionally cool winters after all are not a thing of the past. But at the same time there have been many recent signs of climate change that emanate stark warnings.
In a February 13 release of Worldwide Threat Assessment, America’s intelligence community clearly highlighted some of the dire ramifications that rapidly changing climate could trigger.
“The impacts of the long-term trends toward a warming climate, more air pollution, biodiversity loss, and water scarcity are likely to fuel economic and social discontent—and possibly upheaval—through 2018,” the Director of National Intelligence assessment said.
The DNI, which brings together input from top American intelligence organizations, has been pointing out the threat from climate change for years.
But a series of new developments reported this month heighten the urgency to address climate change issues.
For example, the National Snow and Ice Data Center, reports that January 2018 had a new record lows in Arctic sea ice extent. The NSIDC says combined with low ice extent in the Antarctic, global sea ice extent is also at a record low.
This is how a blog post on the NSIDC website explained the trend:
“The new year was heralded by a week of record low daily ice extents, with the January average beating out 2017 for a new record low. Ice grew through the month at near-average rates, and in the middle of the month daily extents were higher than for 2017. However, by the end of January, extent was again tracking below 2017. The monthly average extent of 13.06 million square kilometers (5.04 million square miles) was 1.36 million square kilometers (525,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 average, and 110,000 square kilometers (42,500 square miles) below the previous record low monthly average in 2017.”
In the U.S., scientists have already been linking a sudden increase in topical storms in 2017 to climate change manifestation. Many experts say the devastation that Hurricane Harvey, which in a matter of few days poured 55 inches of rain Houston – as much as comes in Niagara Falls’ flow for 509 days – must be a treated as a terrible reminder of the cost the humanity could pay at places around the world if it does not act in a timely manner.
Being a leading world economy and consumer of energy, the United States has a big role to play. Some of the leading voices on climate change have been urging President Trump, who pulled the U.S. out of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement, to review his administration’s policy on the issue.
Besides numerous other signs of climate change degradation, this year’s Winter Olympics in South Korea have also renewed calls for an urgent and coordinated international drive to save the beauty and spirit of the winter games – a tribute to both the human spirit to compete for lofty standards and Nature’s bounties.
The New York Time reported last week how America’s ski resorts are vanishing and winter athletes are now among those pleading the case for action to stem climate change.
Here is an example of what could lay in store for the world amid worsening climate health as laid out by the DNI assessment:
“The past 115 years have been the warmest period in the history of modern civilization, and the past few years have been the warmest years on record. Extreme weather events in a warmer world have the potential for greater impacts and can compound with other drivers to raise the risk of humanitarian disasters, conflict, water and food shortages, population migration, labor shortfalls, price shocks, and power outages.”