According to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), a strong El Nino and pollution due to human activity contributed to an increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration to 403.3 parts per million last year — up from 400 in 2015.
While startling statistics on global warming and climate change have been routinely publicised and mostly ignored the world over, what it is really frightening about the latest WMO data is the clear evidence that despite the need for drastic cuts to CO2 and other greenhouse gases to avoid lethal temperature increases by 2100, the world is actually moving in the opposite direction. According to WMO scientists, not only does the atmosphere today contain as much CO2 in it as it did five million years ago, but also such an abrupt change in the levels of CO2 has never been seen before. Decades of warnings from climate scientists have fallen on deaf ears.
It is clear that we cannot afford to wish away the prospect of climate change anymore — it is already here and happening now. Mitigating measures such as zero-carbon technology involving wind and wave devices and carbon capture systems must be made more affordable and widely available, the same way that the use of renewable energy sources should be actively encouraged. Low-carbon industries must also be incentivised to promote clean energy, while companies that account for major greenhouse gas emissions must be made to set strong goals to limit rising temperatures. Pioneering countries that have already taken the lead in embracing a greener future — such as the UAE — would serve as role models for the rest of the world.
The alarm bells have been ringing for long and the world needs to act in concert now.