If you thought Covid-19 restrictions, like enforced lockdowns and social distancing, would put a lasting dent in our collective carbon footprint and save the world from warming, you were mistaken.
Earlier this year, in the midst of a horrific news cycle and a rapidly mounting death toll, that notion was a welcome silver lining to the pandemic.
As people around the world stayed at home to stop the spread of the coronavirus, greenhouse gas emissions from the energy and transport industries plummeted, dropping to record lows.
But it may have given some a false sense that the worst effects of climate change were being mitigated.
Unfolding disasters: Just in the past week, we learned that massive glaciers are tearing loose from the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, driven by increasingly high temperatures at the poles, and, in turn, accelerating sea level rise and posing enormous threats to the millions of people living in coastal areas.
Meanwhile, devastating wildfires, fueled by hot, dry winds and “tinderbox” conditions, have scorched millions of acres across the western United States, triggering mass evacuations, claiming dozens of lives and sending smoke haze billowing across the country, as far as Europe.
If that wasn’t enough, the Atlantic is also having one of its busiest hurricane seasons on record, spurred by warm sea surface temperatures. To give you a sense of just how busy: Hurricane Sally, which blew ashore as a Category 2 hurricane early Wednesday in Alabama, was one of five tropical cyclones in the Atlantic on Monday — a phenomenon that’s happened only once before, almost 50 years ago.
Climate crisis: All of these extreme weather events can be linked to global warming, caused by rising levels of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, mainly from humans burning fossil fuels.
They’re grim reminders that the world has a much bigger existential crisis on its hands than Covid-19. And it will take a lot more than a few months of forgoing air and car travel to stop it.
Read the full story: