Historic heat and unprecedented wildfires, melting glacial ice, a hyperactive Atlantic hurricane season, a 60% decline in global wildlife populations, La Niña has formed – scientists say all this is proof of climate change.
Taken one by one, one can look at all the weather and environmental events of 2020 and view them as the natural up and down cycles that have occurred throughout history.
But what scientists are drawing attention to is the conglomeration of simultaneous extreme events in numerous categories.
“We are seeing the emergence of some signals that would have had almost no chance of happening without human-induced climate change,” Sonia Seneviratne, a climate scientist at Swiss university ETH Zurich, told Reuters, reported via the Huffington Post.
Out of all this, a relatively new field of science has developed cold “event attribution science.” Advances in this area have enabled researchers to assess how big a role climate change might have played in a specific case.
The year 2020 is on track to be one of the hottest years on record, at least in the top five, according to predictions by NASA as of August. Already in the first nine months of 2020, it has been the second-warmest year on the books.
The growing intensity and frequency of heatwaves worldwide is a clear indicator of climate change, according to a number of scientists.
Death Valley, California reached a new record high on August 16 of 130 degrees Fahrenheit – the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth. The new record high in Death Valley broke another record the area set only a month earlier when it reached 128 degrees in July.
One of the key culprits of an indication of climate change is the record temperatures in Siberia, where the village of Verkhoyansk in the Arctic Circle recorded a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, about 32 degrees above normal. The extreme heat in the region has also led to a drying out of forests and peat across the Russian tundra, which in turn led to massive wildfires.
A recent UK study of melting glacial ice by two university teams found that between 1994 and 2017, the earth lost 28 trillion tons of ice melt, and scientists say it’s speeding up, The Independent reported in August.
It’s an increase in a single decade of 57 percent. The majority, 60 percent, of Earth’s melting ice is occurring in the northern hemisphere.
According to the world wildlife foundation (WWF), since 1970, global wildlife populations have declined by more than two-thirds, the Daily Mail reports.
The destruction of wild animal habitats is also fueling outbreaks of disease and global pandemics such as COVID-19. Encroachment on habitats is bringing human populations in closer proximity to wildlife and diseases are jumping between species.
The WWF Living Planet Index found that in less than 50 years, not only have over 60% of total wildlife populations decreased but many species are being driven toward extinction. Human activities such as poaching, illegal hunting, as well as demands for food and product supply chains.
The report found that wildlife populations in Latin America and the Caribbean have declined by 94 percent.
The populations of freshwater species have declined by 84 percent.
African elephant populations have declined by 98 percent between 1985 and 2010, mostly due to poaching in the early 1980s.
Lowland gorilla populations have fallen by 87 percent between 1994 and 2015, mostly due to illegal hunting.
In a separate study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, polar bears were predicted to be mostly extinct by 2100, The Guardian reported.