Severe disruptions coming

Environmentalists warn of growing number of catastrophic weather events if we don’t do something to curb CO2 emissions

While the Trump Follies distract us, the planet’s climate continues to change in a way that eventually will make the current occupant of the White House seem like only a bump in the road.

According to the Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, which is published by the United Nations World Meteorological Organization’s Global Atmosphere Watch program, globally averaged carbon dioxide concentrations increased from 400 parts per million in 2015 to 403.3 ppm in 2016.

For those who say that doesn’t seem like much, look at it this way: The 2016 figure is the highest global CO2 level in approximately 3 million to 5 million years.

That would place it, writes Jessica Corbett for the online news source Common Dreams, during the Pliocene epoch, when the global temperature was up to 3°C warmer, and due to melting ice sheets sea level was about 66 feet higher than it is today.

The bulletin warns that today’s global CO2 concentrations, which are 145 percent of levels before 1750, likely will have a notable impact on global climate systems and cause “severe ecological and economic disruptions.”

We’re already seeing some of those disruptions, in the form of extreme weather events and the millions of people displaced because of droughts and floods, especially in poorer nations. It will only get worse as whole regions, such as the Middle East and northern Africa, become inhospitable, forcing people to flee to liveable areas, where they often aren’t welcome.

We have the tools to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “What we need now,” says Erik Solheim, head of U.N. Environment, “is global political will and a new sense of urgency.”