Climate Change has become Climate Reality

Extreme weather has an undeniable link to Climate change.

Is 2021 finally the year of action?

The amount of extreme weather that we have seen across the world over the past few months has been staggering. We have had unprecedented levels of  rainfall, flash floods that have taken lives across China and temperatures hitting record levels in the US West and Brasil. Canada had the sort of tropical heat that they have simply never experienced in many of their lifetimes and wildfires raged across Russia and Siberia.

The world is changing. That much is very clear. But still, it wasn’t until these weather extremes encroached into our European space that it really started to dawn on us properly that this global (and national) picture is very, very different to what we have experienced in the last few years. We watched in horror as floods invaded central Europe, with Belgium and France still counting their death toll. And then we hear of the storms and heavy rainfall that have struck Lake Como. Now this is very close to home.

Of course, we have been told for many years that it was happening (faster than many of us were able to admit), all of the signs have been well projected, but somehow, like so many things, it’s not until its right there in front of you, happening in real time, that you are prepared to believe it.

Image from Anna Shvets

As we reveled in the recent heatwave across Ireland over the last few weeks, there was also a sense of caution that ran through our conversations about the glorious weather. As much as we were happy to indulge in the sunny days, we also know that this is not a good sign for the long term picture of our planet.

The extreme weather we are seeing now is not all as a direct result of human behaviour we are told, but scientists are sure that many of these events could simply not have happened without human involvement (ie: CO2 emissions etc). Despite a dip in pollution linked to the pandemic, levels of atmospheric CO2 and methane hit all-time highs in 2021.

So, what is happening here?

According to Michael Mann, a climate scientist of Pennsylvania State University:

“It’s not so much that climate change itself is proceeding faster than expected – the warming is right in line with model predictions from decades ago. Rather, it’s the fact that some of the impacts are greater than scientists predicted.”

While climate modeling continues to evolve, there are still uncertainties in how climate change will manifest into the future, particularly at a local level. Our scientists have high confidence in their projections, but the models used must also allow for rare events and therefore, it can sometimes be difficult to get a true and immediate picture of the changes at a point in time.

The scientific community are constantly looking at the models they use to see how they can be developed, but rare events (like extreme weather) are by their very nature – rare, so there is less data to work with. More research is desperately needed, but it’s difficult when the pattern of weather and change becomes more sporadic.

One thing that everyone agrees on however, is that these extreme weather events are here to stay. The reality now is that we must rapidly reduce our global CO2 emissions more quickly than we realised.

Thankfully, there are more and more local, national and international initiatives, groups and organisations are putting themselves forward to help and the urgency for action is becoming more palpable.

Global leaders are tackling the issue harder than ever before and we must see this as a positive. Cop26 (the 26th annual summit of Conference of the Parties) will meet in Glasgow in November and this is bound to result in a serious and co-ordinated global effort to work together on Climate Change mitigation. According to the Cop26 website:

[It is…] …an event many believe to be the world’s best last chance to get runaway climate change under control. 

We hope that plans discussed will include all sectors, private and state-owned  – and that all industries will be represented. We also hope that all countries will come to the table. For it is only if we are all included, all represented and all listened to, that we will make definitive progress.

For you and me, we must continue to be involved and play our individual part in this change.

We say this a lot here at, but this journey involves all of us. There are no first class tickets or VIP lounges. We are all in this together and we need to become invested in a real and meaningful way.

This is not about the future anymore. It is about now. And we need to become an active participant.

This is not climate Change. It is Climate reality.

Mary O’Sullivan

Header Image from Johannes Plenio

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