The world is burning

The world is burning

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Indeed, the extremely high temperatures of May and June broke records in various parts of Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the United States, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported, adding that the heat wave in the north came east. year unusually earlier.

At the same time, the average global temperatures recorded on the surface of the land and the sea in the first five months of this year were the second highest in history, according to analysis by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States, the Institute NASA-Goddard Space Studies Department and the European Copernicus Center for Medium-Range Climate Forecasting - Climate Change Service.


In Portugal, extreme temperatures of around 40 degrees Celsius contributed to the severity of the devastating fire that, with its rapid advance, devastated the Pedrógão Grande region, 150 kilometers northeast of Lisbon, and left dozens of people dead and more injured. .

The WMO reported on the 20th of this month that Portugal is not the only European country that suffers the effects of extreme weather, as neighboring Spain, which had its hottest spring in more than 50 years, and France, also registered maximum temperatures. In addition, the forecasts for the French territory indicate that it will continue to have afternoons with more than 10 degrees above the average for this time of year.

The Spanish spring, from March 1 to May 31, has been extremely warm, with an average temperature of 15.4 degrees, 1.7 degrees above the average in this period (compared to 1980-2010), the agency.

And in many other parts of Europe, including Great Britain, above-average high temperatures were also recorded.


On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, in the United States, heats close to or above the record were also recorded, the WMO said. In parts of the southwestern desert and as far as California, temperatures hovered around 49 degrees.

More than 29 million Californians lived under extreme heat alerts on the third weekend of this month.

Phoenix registered 47.8 degrees on the 19th, the press even reported that air traffic stopped at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, in Arizona, due to excess heat. And in fact, the cancellation of flights coincided with one of the hottest days in the last 30 years in that state.

And the Valle Muerto National Park, California, alerted visitors that temperatures would hover between 38 and 49 degrees. The place is known to have had the highest recorded temperature in the world of 56.7 degrees in 1913.

North Africa, Middle East and Asia

In the United Arab Emirates, the maximum temperature of 50 degrees was recorded on May 17, while in the center of the southeastern province of Kuzestan, in Iran, neighboring Iraq, thermometers read 50 degrees on 15 of this month, said the OMM.

The heat wave in Morocco peaked on May 17, when 42.9 degrees were recorded at Larach station in the north of the country.

High temperatures in June followed those that exceeded the average in many parts of the world in late May.

The city of Turbat in southwestern Pakistan registered 54 degrees. WMO will set up an international commission of experts to verify the mark and assess whether it matches the 54 degree registered in Kuwait in July 2016.

Unprecedented displacement of people

In this climatic context, the world registered another inhuman record of one person displaced every three seconds.

Almost 66 million people were forced from their homes in 2016, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported in its Global Trends report, released ahead of World Refugee Day on June 20.

The displacement is not only due to conflicts, but also to the advance of drought and desertification.

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) warned on the 17th of this month, on World Day to Combat Desertification, that in 2025, in less than eight years, 1.8 billion people will suffer a absolute scarcity of water and two thirds of the world's population will live in conditions of water stress.

Now it is feared that advancing drought and deserts, increasing water scarcity and loss of food security will generate a “tsunami” of climate migrants and refugees.

The Executive Secretary of the UNCCD, Monique Barbut, recalled that the vast majority of refugees come from regions prone to drought and water scarcity.

Neither desertification nor drought alone causes massive displacement of people, but they can increase the risk of conflicts and intensify existing ones, he explained.

Possibly irreversible threat

As a way to help mitigate the effects of the current heat wave, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) signed an agreement with the WMO on 20 this month to deepen cooperation and respond to variability. climate change and climate change, which "represents an urgent and possibly irreversible threat to human societies, natural ecosystems and food security".

The initiative seeks to strengthen agrometeorological services and facilitate access to farmers and fishermen, as well as improve specific global and regional early warning monitoring and respond to high-impact events such as droughts.

"Saving livelihoods is saving lives, this is what building resilience is all about," said FAO Director General José Graziano da Silva, who signed the agreement, together with Petteri Taalas, for the WMO, within the framework of a seminar on drought organized on the 19th of this month by Iran, the Netherlands and the FAO, in Rome.

Recalling the 2011 drought in Somalia, where 250,000 people starved to death, Da Silva recalled: "People die because they are not prepared to cope with the effects of the drought, because their livelihoods are not resilient enough."

"For years, they have responded to drought the moment it occurs, rushing to bring emergency assistance and keep people alive," he observed. "Of course it is important," but it is essential to invest in preparedness and resilience, he stressed.

Translated by Verónica Firme

Photo: Abandoned and rusted ships in Muynak, Uzebkistan, a former port city whose population declined drastically with the receding Aral Sea. Credit: Eskinder Debebe / UN Photo.

IPS News

Video: The World Is Burning (May 2022).


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