New Year, Same Problems

As we emerge into the New Year, resolutions are made and with them come opportunities to do better. A trend we see each year, however, is the worsening of our environment and not enough action being taken. This has once again been a prevalent problem in 2021. Going into 2022, it’s important to be aware of the state of our planet and some ways to reduce risks that follow.

Looking Back on Environmental Strife in 2021

According to the Climate and Environmental branch of the United Nations, 2021 joins the top 7 warmest years on record. Each year exceeds the global trends seen the previous year. What makes this increase significant is that global temperatures continue to rise more than 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This nears the limits created under the Paris Climate Agreement. Despite 2020-2022 being in a cooled state due to the La Nina Effect (see our article regarding what this phenomenon is), temperature none-the-less remains at a worrying high. These trends are projected to continue each year as more and more greenhouse gasses are present in our atmosphere and trap heat. Warnings have been issued by environmentalists and once again minimal action is being taken by government heads. The Chief at WMO remarks, “The year 2021 will be remembered for a record-shattering temperature of nearly 50°C in Canada, comparable to the values reported in the hot Saharan Desert of Algeria, exceptional rainfall, and deadly flooding in Asia and Europe as well as drought in parts of Africa and South America.”

2021 one of the seven warmest years on record.
Source: Met Office Hadley Centre
United Nations Climate and Environment

Climate change also affects the oceans’ heat content, pH levels, sea levels, glacial mass, and also crucial marine species populations. This year just contributed to the need for the government’s attention and action. An emergency that has already and will continue to affect every aspect of life calls for such attentivity. The Secretary-General of the United Nation expresses, “Global emissions must be reduced by 45 per cent by the end of the decade to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century.” These are big demands, but if they are not met, the cost is even greater.

Recent capture of Earth’s carbon dioxide distribution (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio/NASA/JPL AIRS Project)

What This Calls For in 2022

It’s as simple as this: reducing emissions will reduce the greenhouse effect. What instigates global warming is the presence of heat trapping gasses that result from the combustion of coal, oil, or any form of fossil fuels. Both natural and human interferences have a role in climate patterns; however, humans are intensifying matters exponentially. Economically, switching to  renewably sourced energy would be costly at first yet would eventually level out and end up being more cost effective. Another way society could help in 2022 is cutting down on materialism and being rid of a “throw away” mindset. Of course, this problem could not quickly be solved in a year. However, being cognizant of what burdens we are carrying into the new year, perhaps in another 12 months a little weight will be removed. Also, take action! The best way to start this journey is by being educated on these issues and actively supporting efforts to solve them. Go to protests, listen to lectures, read articles, or even join a local club/organization.

Sources:

“2021 Joins Top 7 Warmest Years on Record: WMO | | UN News.” United Nations, United Nations, https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/01/1110022.

September 01, 2021 Melissa Denchak Jeff Turrentine. “Global Climate Change: What You Need to Know.” NRDC, 7 Dec. 2021, https://www.nrdc.org/stories/global-climate-change-what-you-need-know?gclid=Cj0KCQiAosmPBhCPARIsAHOen-NiFbATnlicuWAzc3OeWttzdH4U7pOATqOLw6Xsgfum4nVQAXF0ExoaAiQQEALw_wcB.

“UN Chief Calls for Action to Put out ‘5-Alarm Global Fire’ | | UN News.” United Nations, United Nations, https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/01/1110292.

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