Science and Environment

Three in four say climate 'tipping points' close

Patrick Galey - Agence France-Presse
Three in four say climate 'tipping points' close
Charred trees remain following a wildfire in the region of Chefchaouen of northern Morocco on August 16, 2021. Firefighters in northern Morocco are battling to put out two forest blazes, a forestries official said as the North African kingdom swelters in a heatwave. Firefighting planes were being used to tackle the conflagrations which had already destroyed some 200 hectares (500 acres) of forest.
AFP/Fadel Senna

PARIS, France — Some 73% of people now believe that Earth's climate is approaching abrupt and irreversible "tipping points" due to human activity, according to  a global opinion poll released Tuesday.

The survey, conducted before the publication of a bombshell UN climate science report last week, showed that more than half (58%) of respondents in G20 nations feel very or extremely concerned about the state of the planet. 

Scientists are increasingly concerned that some feedback loops in nature — such as irreversible melting of icesheets or permafrost — may be close to being triggered as mankind's mind-boggling carbon emissions show no signs of slowing, despite a pandemic.

The IPCC report warned that Earth is on course to be 1.5C hotter than pre-industrial times around 2030 — a full decade earlier than it projected just three years ago. 

It said that "low likelihood, high impact" tipping points, such as the Amazon degrading from a carbon sink to source, "cannot be ruled out".

Tuesday's survey, conducted by the Global Commons Alliance and Ipsos MORI, found four out of five respondents wanted to do more to protect the planet.

"The world is not sleepwalking towards catastrophe. People know we are taking colossal risks, they want to do more and they want their governments to do more," said Owen Gaffney, the lead author of a report based on the poll's findings. 

Tuesday's survey showed that people in developing nations were more likely to be willing to protect nature and the climate than those in richer countries. 

Ninety-five percent of respondents in Indonesia, and 94% in South Africa, said they would do more for the planet, compared with just 70% and 74% in Germany and the United States, respectively.

And although 59% of people surveyed said they believed in the need for a rapid transition away from fossil fuels, just eight% acknowledged the need for large-scale economic shifts this decade. 

Gaffney said the survey showed "people really want to do something to protect nature, but report that they lack information and face financial constraints to what they can do."

"The vast majority of people in the world's wealthiest countries... are worried about the state of the planet and want to protect it," said Kenyan environmentalist Elizabeth Wathuti.

"They want to become planetary stewards. This should be a wake-up call to leaders everywhere."

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As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: September 30, 2023 - 2:18pm

Follow this page for updates about climate change and information on current environmental issues. Main photo by Efigenio Toledo IV

September 30, 2023 - 2:18pm

Britain's Conservative government announces new plans to "support drivers" and push back on "anti-car measures" as some opposition-led areas move to impose restrictions on the use of motor vehicles in the name of environmental protection.

"The clamp down on drivers is an attack on the day to day lives of most people across the UK who rely on cars to get to work or see their families," Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says in a statement announcing the new plans.

"This week the UK government will set out a long-term plan to back drivers, slamming the brakes on anti-car measures across England. We are taking the necessary decision to back the motorists who keep our country moving." — AFP

September 19, 2023 - 2:09pm

Researchers say marine heatwaves may last longer and be more intense in deeper water, potentially threatening sensitive species as climate change makes the extreme events more frequent.

Oceans have absorbed 90% of the excess heat produced by the carbon pollution from human activity since the dawn of the industrial age. 

Marine heatwaves -- episodes of abnormally high water temperatures -- have become more frequent and intense. — AFP

September 4, 2023 - 6:34pm

The government says Hong Kong experienced its hottest summer on record this year, with the city seeing "record-breaking" temperatures.

"Together with the exceptionally hot weather in June and July, Hong Kong experienced the hottest summer on record from June to August 2023," it says in a press release. — AFP

September 1, 2023 - 5:05pm

The weather agency says Japan's summer this year was the country's hottest since records began in 1898.

"In the summer (June-August) of 2023, the average summer temperature in Japan was considerably higher in northern, eastern, and western Japan. Average temperatures in Japan are the highest for summer since 1898," the agency says.

"The average temperature anomaly in Japan, based on observations at 15 locations, was +1.76 degrees C, far exceeding that of 2010 (+1.08 degrees C), which was the highest since statistics began in 1898 and the highest for summer," it says in a statement.

"Warm air tended to cover northern Japan and warm air flowed in from the south, resulting in considerably higher average summer temperatures in northern, eastern, and western Japan," it adds. — AFP

August 8, 2023 - 3:13pm

European climate service Copernicus announces Tuesday that July 2023 easily broke the record for the hottest month ever recorded on Earth, beating the previous record which was July 2019 by 0.33 degrees Celsius.

Marred by heatwaves and wildfires around the globe, last month also saw average air temperatures 0.72 degrees hotter than recent July averages from 1991 - 2020. — AFP

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