Climate Crisis: The Ecological Collapse Has Begun

In recent months, we have witnessed several meteorological anomalies that have set new historical records in the worrying advance of a global climate crisis.

During the month of June, there was a significant increase in the surface temperature of the North Atlantic, reaching a maximum increase of 1.3 °C from pre-industrial levels. Likewise, at a global level, an increase in the average temperature of the oceans was also observed, although in smaller magnitudes.

As for Antarctic ice, unfortunately it has reached a new level of shrinkage. This decrease is comparable to the historical one recorded in 2016, although it occurred several months earlier than expected, even during the cold season. Scientists warn of a possible profound change in the currents that regulate temperature and life in oceans around the world, combining these records.

This concern is due to the impact it may have on climate balance and marine biodiversity. The recent appearance of heat waves on different coasts of the world, such as Ireland, Mexico, Ecuador, Japan, Mauritania and Iceland, may indicate a global phenomenon.

These phenomena are not only present in the oceans, but also in the atmosphere.

On July 4th, the global average air temperature reached an impressive all-time high of 17.18°C. This measurement, taken at a height of 2 meters from the ground, is the highest recorded in recent centuries.

During this time, temperatures on continents, especially in the North, reached record levels. Siberia recorded a temperature of 40 degrees Celsius, Mexico reached 50 degrees Celsius and June became the hottest month on record in England since historical records began in 1884.

On the other hand, droughts also pose a significant challenge, like the one currently affecting Uruguay. Since May, the scarcity of fresh water has forced people to resort more and more to brackish sources, which means that tap water is unsuitable for human consumption in the metropolitan area of ​​Montevideo, where 60% of the population is found. Country. The region of the country is experiencing a severe drought which, if it persists, could result in a shortage of drinking water.

The intense heat and droughts not only cause discomfort, but also contribute to the outbreak of devastating fires, like the one that has raged in Canada’s boreal forests for several weeks now. There have already been more than 500 fires spread across different regions of the country, many of them out of control. Widely circulated images show an apocalyptic New York, plunged in darkness and dyed red, covered by a thick blanket of ash.

The tragic evidence that is accumulating incontestably contradicts any denialist argument, making it clear that the climate crisis is already a present reality in our lives. This fact also indicates the complete failure of the policies and initiatives implemented to reduce emissions or the presence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

In May of this year, there was a significant increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) levels measured at NOAA’s Global Reference Observatory in Hawaii. These levels reached an all-time high of 424 parts per million (ppm), which represents an increase of more than 50% compared to levels prior to the start of the industrial era and, those for the period from January to May 2023, a 0. 3% higher than the same period in 2022 and 1.6% compared to 2019 (carbon monitor, 2023).

The latest IPCC report for 2023 reveals worrying data

According to this report, the global surface temperature has risen at a faster rate since 1970 than in any other 50-year period, for at least the last 2,000 years, the same period in which international agreements and local initiatives have been implemented to combat the causes. . of climate change (IPCC, 2023).

We can see the failure of these policies in the present, as the old capitalism still has a strong presence and continues to plunder and destroy the environment and society. The capital civilizational crisis we are currently facing is characterized by a global regional war and the advances of extreme extractivism.

These main dimensions threaten life on the planet, contributing to what is known as the Sixth Extinction, according to Seoane (2023).

Mitigation policies have proven to be ineffective and adaptation policies are weak or even non-existent. The latter aim to reduce the foreseeable impacts of climate change. The consequences of this situation fall mainly on the popular sectors.

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This imposes an urgency not only to carry out a socio-ecological transition, but also to develop social adaptation plans for these same sectors. It is important that concrete actions are taken and communities are involved to face this challenge and ensure their well-being.

What the WMO says about the climate crisis

The annual report of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) for the year 2023 warned in May that there is a high probability (66%) that the annual global average temperature will exceed 1.5 °C. in at least one year out of the next five (2023-2027), According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in its 2023 report, there is a 32% probability that the average temperature of the next five years will exceed 1.5 °C

Furthermore, it is almost certain with a 98% probability that at least one of the next five years, as well as the five years as a whole, will become the warmest on record; and the IPCC estimated serious consequences of permanently exceeding this temperature.

The current evidence of the climate crisis is worrying and alerts us to the possibility of reaching a critical point from which the impacts become increasingly serious and difficult to control.

The arrival of the El Niño phenomenon this year and in the coming years will bring us close to that point. El Niño is a climatic event that is characterized by the warming of the eastern equatorial region of the Pacific Ocean, and its frequency varies between three and eight years. The Southern Oscillation, also known as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), was first identified in the 19th century by climatologist Gilbert Walker.

In 1924, he coined the term to describe an anomalous warming phenomenon in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Then, in 1969, meteorologist Jacob Bjerknes suggested that this unusual warming could disturb trade wind patterns and increase warm waters eastward, i.e., towards the intertropical coasts of South America.

The phenomenon we are referring to is not simply a traditional meteorological event that occurs at irregular annual periods. It’s not just a natural phenomenon. Although attempts are made to make it invisible or repeatedly deny it, its causes are social.

In recent decades, we have seen a significant increase in the frequency and intensity of the climate crisis.

An example of this is the recent extended La Niña event, which ended in early 2023. This was the third consecutive La Niña event since 1950, and it has been getting stronger and longer lasting.

In addition, in 2016, El Niño caused the planet’s average temperature to reach a record high. Scientists estimate that this phenomenon known as super-Niño may be repeated in the future, which may have unknown consequences due to high levels of greenhouse gases and the current situation of the climate crisis.

The urgency of a change based on social and climate justice, as well as the effective strategies proposed by popular movements for a socio-ecological transition, are increasingly important today. It is possible to develop an urgent action plan that includes mitigation and adaptation measures, driven by the active participation of the population.

For these alternatives to be socially recognized and to break with the ecological ignorance that tries to prevail, it is fundamental to challenge the epistemological vision that tries to define these disasters in a repetitive and persistent way as simply part of a pure natural world, in a supposedly external, strange field. and outside human social control.

This text refers to a perspective that considers that the responsibility for the current crises does not fall on social groups or on the socioeconomic system. Instead, he argues that these crises are perceived as unpredictable and unknowable events, which only leaves room for resignation, religious alienation or individual resilience.

The questioning of these points of view does not appear only in speeches, but also in practices and emotions. It is about responding to the catastrophe by building or rebuilding solidary, collective, community and social ties that are fundamental to achieving an emancipatory change.

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