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August 15, 2019

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Sizzling summer, a yellow card for the Earth on climate change

NEW data from the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service indi­cates this past July was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth.

High temperatures this summer, accompanied by extreme weather in many places around the world, have clearly shown that the planet we live on has received a yel­low card — a serious warning from Mother Nature.

Europeans have experienced an unprecedented scorching summer, and so have people in many countries in North America and Asia. Some areas have had more wild fires than usual, and the number of re­gions short of fresh water is growing.

A much more serious con­sequence of climate change is the accelerated melting of ice sheets and glaciers in the Arctic and Antarctic areas, which not only threatens to submerge island countries and lowland cities, but also seriously weakens the cli­mate-regulating power of the polar areas.

According to data from the Danish Meteorological Institute, Greenland lost 197 billion metric tons of ice in July, about four times the amount normally lost in the same period over the previ­ous years.

“The science is clear,” said World Meteorological Orga­nization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “Without rapid cuts in CO2 and other green­house gases, climate change will have increasingly de­structive and irreversible impacts on life on Earth. The window of opportunity for ac­tion is almost closed.”

He said that the last time the Earth experienced a compara­ble concentration of CO2 was 3-5 million years ago, when the temperature was 2-3 de­grees Celsius warmer and sea level was 10-20 meters higher than what we have now.

There may be multiple rea­sons for climate change, but the greenhouse gas emissions from human activities has proved to be a major one.

United Nations Secretary- General Antonio Guterres has said that the Earth has re­corded the five warmest years on record from 2015 to 2019. A UN report on sustainable development said with rising greenhouse gas emissions, climate change is occurring at a rate much faster than an­ticipated and “its effects are clearly felt worldwide.”

The Earth is home to all living creatures, hence the responsibility of every indi­vidual and every country to do their part to slow down the process of climate change and save our planet from destruction.

We’re not without means to reduce emissions. As a matter of fact, we have plenty at our disposal — wind power, solar energy and other alternative energies, energy-saving tech­nologies, afforestation, and the list goes on.

The key to solving the problem lies not in our ca­pability, but willingness and determination.

Fulfilling promises

The Paris Climate Change Agreement has brought us hope of saving the planet. It aims to cut the net emissions of CO2 to zero by around 2050 and hold the global av­erage temperature increase as close as possible to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century — targets well agreed on by world leaders.

To the deep regret of inter­national society, however, the US government made a self-centered decision to withdraw from the agreement.

By contrast, other contract­ing parties, including China, continued to fulfill their prom­ises in realizing the targets, and China’s contribution has been especially outstanding.

UN data shows that in 2018 China led investment in re­newable energy worldwide for the seventh successive year, at US$91.2 billion, account­ing for a third of the global total investment. China has also been the world’s biggest renewable energy producer for many years.

According to China’s Policies and Actions for Ad­dressing Climate Change 2018, the country’s carbon emission in 2017 was down 46 percent from 2005, sur­passing the 2020 goal of decreasing 40-45 percent.

China’s achievement in afforestation is even more re­markable. According to data collected by NASA satellites, China contributed at least 25 percent of Earth’s new foliage since the early 2000s.

Although climate change has already pushed the bio­logical environment of the globe to the edge of danger, humans still have the time and capacity to save it. Start­ing from now, all people living on our planet should protect our common home­land as dearly as they protect their eyes. Only then will we be able to stop the yellow card from morphing into a red card.

Xu Xingtang is a Xinhua writer.


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