Since record-keeping began in 1880, 2021 has recorded the sixth highest global surface temperature – a trend that experts say will continue and bring future extreme weather events affecting infrastructure and agriculture.
In a virtual briefing on Thursday, NASA climate researchers said that over the past five years, there has been “no shortage of extremes” and they predict that more extreme heat, intense rainfall, and more coastal flooding will continue.
Canada and the rest of North America had the seventh warmest year on record in 2021, with temperatures 1.40 C (2.52 F) above average, according to NASA’s annual Global Climate Report published Thursday.
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In an interview with Global News’ Jackson Prosco, Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said the world has reached a plateau of warming that is actually part of the ongoing continued warming. This is due to an increase in greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide and methane, he said.
“We are seeing global warming … being directly impacted by heat waves in western Canada last summer (as shown), changes in coastal flooding and changes in intense rainfall,” Schmidt said.
“All of these things are now being linked more strongly to the fact that we have warmed the planet by more than one degree Celsius over the past 100 years,” he said.
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Overall, the February 2021 temperature departure for North America was -1.34 C (-2.41 F) – North America’s coldest February since 1994, aHow the warm climate has affected the weather, according to a NASA report.
According to the Canadian government, the maximum temperature of the Prairies was as high as -34.0 C (-29.2 F) and nighttime cold winds between -45 C to -55 C (-49 F to -67.0 F), causing many new The temperature was set. Record temperature going back 50 years.
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“Extremely cold temperatures caused waterways and rail lines to collapse, setting a record for energy demand,” the report said.
Of note, June 2021 was North America’s warmest June on record, NASA said. During the last week of June, an extreme heat wave affected the northwestern contiguous US and western Canada, with maximum temperatures exceeding 38.0 C (100 F), which is not typical for the region.
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Lytton, BC, set a new national maximum temperature record for three days in a row, according to the World Meteorological Organization. The latest record was 49.6 C (121.3 F) set on June 29 in 2021, which is the highest maximum for summer temperatures in the Middle East.
The NASA report said that “over 800 heat-related deaths and hospitalizations in western Canada were attributed to extreme heat. crops have been affected.
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Clagg, a professor of earth sciences at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, said Canada will need to improve public infrastructure amid the warming climate that comes with extreme weather, such as floods and droughts.
“I think people … especially in British Columbia, have a feeling that we’re entering a new world. It’s not going to be the old normal. So they’re really starting to recognize that we have to adapt ,” said Clegg.
As of January 11, British Columbia has again extended its provincial emergency, stating that some highways are still damaged by November’s floods and landslides, with further flooding expected this week.
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Clagg explained that people in British Columbia could see the devastation wrought by the floods and so the province needed to improve the public infrastructure that supports the economy.
“The Ministry of Transport maintains our highway system and rail lines, but basically they were built at one time and were not in these extreme conditions. And I think we need to rethink … the way They over-engineer them,” Clagg said.
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He said that it is worth spending money to improve the existing infrastructure because if this is not done, extreme weather events like floods can cause economic damage which can be worth billions of dollars.
“The key going forward is to recognize and support actions that people take to better adapt. Some of them are government responsibilities, but they have to be driven with public support,” Clagg said.
Is it possible to slow global warming?
According to Schmidt, the only way to slow global warming is to stop emissions of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide.
“We’re not going back to the temperatures we had in the 1980s. That ship has moved on, but we can stop making it worse,” Schmidt said.
He also pointed out that there are many governments which are working towards reducing their emissions.
“One piece of science that’s helpful and I think gives us a little bit of hope is that … the increase in temperature that we might see is almost entirely due to the future emissions that we’re going to have … That’s why we are in control of our destiny,” Schmidt said.
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Scott Sklar, a professor at The George Washington University who teaches courses on sustainable energy, said one problem with convincing people to prioritize climate is that there is too much emphasis being placed on people.
“It gets overwhelming. And then they shut down and then we get stuck. So I think there are some simple personal choices that people can make in their homes and in their businesses depending on how they work,” Sklar said. said.
He said, “The first is energy efficiency… so everything from LED light bulbs and when you buy office machines and equipment, get more efficient and obviously turn off the lights.”
He also suggested that when people get new cars, they should focus on more efficient cars, like electric vehicles, so there are alternatives and reasons for optimism.
“I believe in this interconnected world now with all these terrifying patterns we’ve seen from wildfires and storms that most people on the planet get it, but we have to make sure there’s an achievable tool for them.” are,” Sklar said.
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-Global News with files from Jackson Prosco.
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