The heatwave in Siberia this summer has caused temperatures soar as high as 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit). A group of scientists on Wednesday said that this would have been “almost impossible” without man-made climate change.
A new study, which has not been peer reviewed yet, conducted by an international team of scientists from the UK, Russia, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland found that the greenhouse effect multiplied Siberia’s chance of heat by at least 600 times.
The study looked at temperatures in the region from January through June, including a day when the mercury hit a record 38 degrees Celsius in the town of Verkhoyansk.
Read more: Record heat wave in Siberia has far-flung consequences
The scientists found that without climate change, the prolonged heat that Siberia experienced would happen only once every 80,000 years. Lead author of the study Andrew Ciavarella, a scientist at the UK Met Office, said this would have been ”effectively impossible without human influence.”
“This is further evidence of the extreme temperatures we can expect to see more frequently around the world in a warming climate,” he added.
The team used 70 climate models, running thousands of complex simulations comparing current conditions to a world without man-made warming from the burning of coal, oil and gas.
Read more: Russia: Norilsk environmental disasters — what you need to know
They said extra heat trapping gases from burning fuel, along with widespread wildfires, pest outbreaks and the thawing of permafrost, which led to a massive pipeline oil spill, contributed to this year’s heatwave.
Our dependence on air-conditioning is probably one of the most ironic climate change feedback loops we have created: As temperatures rise, we turn up our ACs, which generate more emissions, which leads to warmer temperatures, and so on. Scientists are busy figuring out how to create cool air without electricity. If they succeed, it could hopefully be a game-changer.
Much has been said abut the green credentials of electric cars. But are they really squeaky clean? While they still produce lower CO2 emissions when actually on the road, they’re really only as green as their power source. And the production of electric vehicles is energy intensive because of the complex batteries required to run them.
From the Great Barrier Reef to retreating glaciers: In response to the effects of climate change, more and more people are opting to visit World Heritage Sites and other fragile parts of the world while they still can. Although ‘last chance’ tourism can help raise awareness of environmental issues, flight emissions and stress on local resources often makes the situation even worse.
Even if you choose not to travel, simply staying at home doesn’t mean you aren’t contributing to carbon emissions. Experts have calculated that the world’s digital footprint has now exceeded that of the aviation industry. The more data we send and store, the more electricity we need. And with billions of people online regularly, those emissions add up very quickly.
More people than ever are switching to a plant-based diet for the sake of the environment. But not all non-animal products are eco-friendly. The soaring popularity of avocados, for example, has led farmers to cut down precious woodlands to keep up with demand, while the production of almond milk requires the diversion of huge amounts of water in drought-prone regions.
We’re constantly being encouraged to invest in the latest eco-friendly products. But the truth is, you’d be helping the planet far more by not buying anything in the first place. Because any new product — no matter how ‘green’ — still requires resources to make. Of course, some products require fewer resources than others. But ultimately, the less stuff we buy, the better.
Rising need for fresh water paired with a drier climate in many parts of the world has increased the demand for desalination plants. Unfortunately, removing salt from the water creates a toxic brine by-product, which can severely damage ecosystems if not properly treated. Although technological innovations are helping make this process more environmentally friendly, it’s still not without risk.
tg/dr (AFP, AP)