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climate change

The State of the Climate – 2024 edition

Amidst so many crises we can only try to comprehend another article about the climate. It’s not that we don’t care about it but the articles tell us one thing, we’re “at the tipping point”. No, it is going back from this very real prospect of a damaged Earth.

Headlines like that are prevalent, as is the existence of concern for the climate-causing developing into indifference. Described as apocalypse fatigue, the reluctance to make choices that seem to make no difference can be translated to the climate crisis as us just about making sense of heat waves and cold snaps causing us to regard news of unmet targets with disinterest. The general nature of the global environmental crisis is demoralising. That is why it is important to regularly consider what it means to you.

This blog will review a few of the latest advances in climate change research.

The recent United Nations climate change summit occurred in Dubai at the end of 2023. The Cop28 Summit, as of 30 Nov 2023 – Wed, 13 Dec 2023, is said to have been notable in that it instituted international cooperation, mobilised finances, secured more actionable commitments and raised the profile of the climate crisis. A few of the main agreed policies are as follows:

  • Almost all countries involved agreed to transition away from fossil fuels except for those who deemed it necessary to continue the use of
  • The creation of a new quantified goal on climate finances, addressing the loss and damage experienced by vulnerable nations
  • The agreement to hold a global stocktake as of 2025 to acknowledge progress and assert accountability
  • The mobilisation of the private sector, the involvement of private businesses

All contributing to the broader framework centred around the Paris Agreement goals 2015, to limit the increase of global warming to well below 2°C on a 20-year average. The summit’s success, however, relies on the dedication of the involved countries. Cop 27 promised the same goals as the latest, with the addition of goals to phase out the use of fossil fuels, improve the World Bank and work on nations’ ability to adapt. Of these goals, funding targets were not completely met, which proved these goals unachievable.

An element of climate change that is particularly relevant is the newly discovered accelerated melting of ice by ocean change. This is the literal tipping point of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) resulting in extreme cold weather for Europe. The research, Published in February 2024 in the journal “Science Advances” by researchers at Utrecht University, was in the creation of a model that simulated the effects of the dissolution of the ice sheets. The AMOC is a large-scale ocean circulation system spanning thousands of kilometres and involving millions of tonnes of water that have the potential to cause broad consequences of the impact on global climate patterns, regional weather systems and ocean ecosystems. The issue of AMOC collapse is simply one of the countless effects of a root cause- unchecked greenhouse gas emissions. These are the primary drivers of global warming.

On the contrary, extreme heat has proven to be an issue.  it has already been discovered that this year marks the world’s first year-long breach of the 1.5℃ warming limit implemented in the Paris 2015 Agreement. This refers to the increase of 1.52℃ in warming between February 2023 and January 2024 of the global temperature, the combined temperature of the earth’s atmosphere and oceans. This event is symbolic rather than trend-setting in that it is not set to continue.

The worrisome statistics come amidst significant ditching of financial policies relating to green plans, and pushing back of targets in the UK. The scaling back of policies reflects the deprioritisation of the climate in politics. The effect of the change is placed in numerous floods, wildfires, heatwaves and droughts experienced across the world. That is not to mention the irregularities in average sea temperature records.

In technology news, the ever-present matter of AI has been employed to tackle climate change already. There are several ways AI can soundly contribute to research regarding the climate. In short, AI has the potential and is already being used in:

  • Monitoring and predicting vast amounts of data from satellites, sensors and records
  • Optimising the use of energy sources
  • Developing new sustainable technologies
  • Analysing agriculture and land management

There is generally a greater involvement AI can have in research, which brings exciting prospects to technology as a whole, rather than generative AI alone. 

These are a few of the latest advances in research into climate change and serve as a wake-up call to action. 

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