Climate change: world enters ‘uncharted territory’
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Climate change: world enters ‘uncharted territory’

Last year was the hottest year since records began. And according to the World Meteorological Organisation, that heating up has continued into early 2017. The world is now in “truly uncharted territory”, when it comes to the heat of its climate. Scientists believe that emissions from human activities are the main cause of climate change, but in 2016, a powerful iteration of the El Niño weather cycle was also contributory. However, as its influence wanes, extreme heat continues to be seen.

David Carlson, director of the WMO’s world climate research program, told The Guardian:

“Even without a strong El Niño in 2017, we are seeing other remarkable changes across the planet that are challenging the limits of our understanding of the climate system. We are now in truly uncharted territory”

Other researchers concur. Jeffrey Kargel, glaciologist at the University of Arizona, said that earth “is a planet in upheaval,” and that “drastically changing conditions do not help civilization, which thrives on stability.” While Prof. David Reay, an emissions expert from the University of Edinburgh, said: “The need for concerted action on climate change has never been so stark nor the stakes so high.”

The threats posed by extreme climate change are many, but a few stand out as particularly worrisome. As the world heats up and the population increases, drinking water (already in short supply) will become an even scarcer resource. Crops upon which the human race has sustained itself through history may be unable to thrive in an altered climate, imperiling our food source. Extreme precipitation and changes to sea level threaten an increase in flooding.

Some of our best bets for surviving these catastrophic events are being pioneered in business. Water technology companies like Xylem Inc. and Halma PLC. provide water recycling and reuse facilities around the world, as well as dewatering technology to pump flooded areas. Genetically modified organisms from companies like Syngenta could provide our crops with the mutations needed to survive in hotter conditions.

There is little doubt, as President Trump plans cuts to climate change research, that we stand at a precipice. Professor Sir Robert Watson, a distinguished scientist and former head of the UN’s climate science panel, said:

“Our children and grandchildren will look back on the climate deniers and ask how they could have sacrificed the planet for the sake of cheap fossil fuel energy.”

Disclosure

Dominion holds a number of companies that are active in providing solutions for climate change, like Xylem Inc. and Syngenta, in its Global Trends Managed Fund.


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