Canada’s ordeal continues and is an unequivocal representation of the climate crisis global. In the area of Listen, town near Vancouver temperatures hit a new record reaching i 49.5 degrees. Sudden deaths, believed to be attributable to the heat wave that is sweeping the country, are more than 230. Some relief could come, according to forecasts, at the weekend. Cases of anomalous temperatures have not been rare in recent years, in various areas of the planet. This time, however, we are faced with something never seen before, he explains Federico Grazzini, meteorologist at Arpae-Simc
I have been following climate changes since 25 years old, day to day and I’ve never seen anything like it. The huge difference compared to other extreme events concerns the deviation from previous records recorded in the same area. Usually these are touch-ups of a few decimals of a degree, here we find ourselves with an increase 10 degrees from the previous peak. The deviation from the climatological models is completely out of range. When making predictions, multiple simulations are carried out, but they start from slightly different assumptions. When a good percentage of these simulations “agree” on the final outcome we have a relatively certain prediction. In the specific case of Canada, all 50 simulations conducted heralded the phenomenon that later occurred, this too something never seen before. The templates all incorporate one certain percentage of error. Thus, for greater consistency, the comparison is then made with the scenario produced in the past with the same model. In this case the result of the comparison is different from any previous one.
Canada understandably occupies the front pages but anomalous situations are occurring in these days also elsewhere….
Absolutely yes. To some extent too in Italy, especially in the south of the country we have been recording temperatures above average for days. But the areas affected are mainly those of North Africa and the Middle East. In some cities of the Kuwait e dell’Iraq for days the 51 degrees. As known, these areas are in themselves warm but now we are talking about temperatures which, if persistent, which are intolerable for the life of human beings. All the more so in localities, which are not lacking in these areas, which, for various reasons, are without electricity.
What are the considerations to make in light of what is happening these days?
These events make us understand how climate modification is taking one alarming fold. My personal reflection is that global warming is happening moving at a higher speed to that of forecasts that are already worrying in themselves. We cannot say exactly how much global warming affected the Canadian episode but we can be sure that it did have an influence. The temperature is rising everywhere and the frequency increases with which these extreme situations occur. We know that heating is not distributed evenly in space and time. And this can, in some cases, distort perception of what is happening globally. The rise in temperatures, for example, affects areas such as those of the most intensely poly and it also fluctuates according to the seasons. In our Mediterranean areas the phenomenon seems to be taking place at the moment above all in the form of warmer summers compared to the past.
What is the state of mind among the insiders in the face of this situation?
No doubt there is one in the scientific community growing concern and this is an attitude that has evolved over the years. At the beginning the phenomenon was looked at mainly with big interest scientific, now there is more and more room for the sense of alarm for what could happen in the future. When I talk about the future I mean a few decades, not 50, much less, 100 years. In a relatively short time, profound impacts on human society could occur, from various points of view, economic and social.
Is there a point of no return and if so how close are we?
For years, the “limit threshold” identified has been that of 2 degrees centigrade of global average temperature increase compared to pre-industrial values. It is the number on which the Paris agreements for the reduction of emissions were built and I believe it is a correct value. Beyond this threshold they are triggered events, such as the death of coral reefs which can trigger a domino effect capable of self-feeding and get out of human control. To date, the increase registered is 1.2 degrees and that’s not cheap at all.
The European Union has linked the use of funds for recovery to the implementation of environmental sustainability strategies. More generally, do you think that the efforts of the international community are sufficient?
The emission reduction targets envisaged by the Paris agreements almost certainly will not be respected. This does not mean that it is not necessary to do everything in our power to try to succeed. I see some encouraging signs, there is no doubt a widespread awareness on the part of politics of the seriousness of the problem and the need to intervene before it is too late. More and more countries tend to bring forward the deadlines set to achieve the previously set environmental objectives. Steps are being taken in the right direction, we need to proceed more decisively, even in the most recalcitrant countries to adopt stringent environmental policies.
Do you think that in the face of these scenarios the position of those who continue to deny that the Earth is overheating still has some scientific legitimacy?
The debate in the scientific community on global warming has begun in the middle of the last century. To pose doubts and hypothesize alternative explanations is a scientific attitude correct and useful. However. since then to now, it has emerged so indisputable that global warming is taking place, it is no longer something questionable. We don’t know everything but we know a lot. We can discuss the degree of incidence of the various factors involved but certainly not on the fact that the phenomenon is occurring and is linked to anthropogenic emissions of gas serra and that decisive action is needed quickly to tackle the problem.