The global pandemic has caused a drop in emissions with fewer vehicles on our roads, airliners grounded and idle, factories shuttered, etc. In heavily polluted cities the results have been dramatic. Some cities in India, for example, haven't seen the Himalaya mountains for years, decades, until recently. Now those peaks again grace their skylines.
While the drop in emissions is good, it's not enough to make a difference to the overall picture. Emissions are still increasing. We just set a record of 417 ppm of atmospheric CO2. Atmospheric CO2 hasn't been that high for three million years. 2020 is expected to be our hottest year since temperature records have been kept.
And now Siberia is adding to the problem.
A prolonged heatwave in Siberia is “undoubtedly alarming”, climate scientists have said. The freak temperatures have been linked to wildfires, a huge oil spill and a plague of tree-eating moths.
Temperatures in the polar regions are rising fastest because ocean currents carry heat towards the poles and reflective ice and snow is melting away.
Russian towns in the Arctic circle have recorded extraordinary temperatures, with Nizhnyaya Pesha hitting 30C on 9 June and Khatanga, which usually has daytime temperatures of around 0C at this time of year, hitting 25C on 22 May. The previous record was 12C.The hand of man is behind it all.
Marina Makarova, the chief meteorologist at Russia’s Rosgidromet weather service, said: “This winter was the hottest in Siberia since records began 130 years ago. Average temperatures were up to 6C higher than the seasonal norms.”
Thawing permafrost was at least partly to blame for a spill of diesel fuel in Siberia this month that led Putin to declare a state of emergency. The supports of the storage tank suddenly sank, according to its operators; green groups said ageing and poorly maintained infrastructure was also to blame.
Wildfires have raged across hundreds of thousands of hectares of Siberia’s forests. Farmers often light fires in the spring to clear vegetation, and a combination of high temperatures and strong winds has caused some fires to burn out of control.Fortunately Canada has declared a climate breakdown "state of emergency." Having taken that bold step, not 24 hours passed before that same federal government greenlighted the massive expansion of a bitumen pipeline. Go figure, eh?
With every decision like Trudeau's Trans Mountain we're terraforming Earth only in ways that are incompatible with life and our survival.