Young people – speak up about climate

Photo by ajay bhargav GUDURU from Pexels

Young people in all countries unite you and demand that decision-makers take care of the climate problem.”

With this small rewriting of a known quote and take this summer into account, I would urge the young generation to play a greater role in the climate debate.

The young people is just the group who has the most to lose here. They must see their future be troubled by the warmer climate. Because although the changes also provide new opportunities, the global political situation does not look good. There is a huge risk of conflicts about access to water and food because living conditions are deteriorating in many places around the globe. There is talk of a risk of millions of climate refugees. Today’s refugee problems will be nothing compared to that. At the same time, population growth will also put pressure on world resources, so there is every reason to shout. A new youth revolt would be nice – yes, there are young active people but it would be great if their voices were heard more loudly.

For it’s time to open the eyes for the strange weather we have been seeing round the globe this summer – weather events, which have given big headlines in the media.

The evidence that the many events this summer have to do with global warming is now so great that politicians and decision makers must become more determined in their efforts to solve the climate crisis. They may readily read the recently published report on climatic dominoes or one of the studies describing the summer in a climatic context if they lack a solid basis for making a decision.

The summer of 2018 is about to end, and we can look back for a few months that have truly been exceptional. A prolonged drought in northern Europe with several heat extremes means that this summer will be remembered by all who have experienced it.

But it is not everyone who looks back on it with pleasure. Agriculture has had a loss in billions of euros, and help packages have been needed to avoid too many bankruptcies. People on holiday on the other hand have enjoyed the heat and the sun, and have been living outdoor for the benefit of cafes and ice makers.

In a broader perspective we have also seen heat and drought elsewhere in the northern hemisphere. The many wildfires – especially in Sweden, Greece and California – have given breaking news in the media.

Very natural ended stable warm and sunny period with a small storm that passed thnorthern Europe on August 10th. It was natural because colder air clashes with the very hot air and gave the ingredients for a deeply intense low pressure. The storm was unusual because it arrived so early, but the conditions have also been unusual this year.

Attribution

Unusual weather conditions do not necessarily have to do with climate change. It is important to keep in mind.

But the temporal unusual storm can be attributed precisely to the heat that has been in northern Europe for so long – and here you can discuss if the heat and the drought can have a part of its root in climate change. The question has been asked by a lot of people this summer.

In order to answer that question, it is necessary to make a so-called attribution study. It is a relatively new method of detecting whether a weather event is getting greater or less likely in a warmer climate. A little simplified, the study is based on taking data back in time to see how often a similar event has occurred. Then you use a climate model to see how often the event will occur in a warmer climate. The outcome of these model calculations then tells how much global warming affects the current event.

World Weather Attribution is a collaboration between the Dutch Meteorological Institute, the Red Cross Climate Center and Oxford University. The calculations from this were published in late July and the result was that such a prolonged high temperature drying period in a warmer climate would occur twice as often. So if it happened every 10 years, it will occur in a warmer climate every 5 years. Now the calculations were already made in July, while the drought was not over yet, so a new study in September with data for the whole summer could show a slightly different result.

The unusual summer is something every country must be interested in because the consequences of heat waves can be great – especially if they are accompanied by prolonged drought as we have seen this year.

Maybe we should begin a discussion of how farmers can find water in a similar drought situation in the future – because it will happen again

It’s about for those involved to demand that the problem be taken seriously and not only right now, where everyone can see it’s bad. When autumn sets in and the weather probably returns to its more common rhythm, other subjects might taking over. Then we forget the drought, because our memory will tell us that it might not have been so bad – and it is raining.

Then those affected by the drought have to step up and maintain the focus and keep the media and politicians in mind, that we have to be able to handle drought and heat waves in the future, as they are expected to come more frequently.

They can appropriately go hand in hand with the youngsters and demand more focus on the climate.

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