Climate Change-The New Normal

Isn’t it a catchy phrase? The New Normal!!!

In recent years, the cliché phrase has been cropping out frequently after disastrous wildfires, hurricanes, heat-waves, and drought, water shortages, and polar melting. Have we left conventionality, the old conditions, and arrived at new normalcy? When did this happen? How does it use to be before “The New Normal?” These are the questions that might pop up in your mind when you hear the phrase.

In climate science, “normal” is a well-defined word: an average over 30 years. Thus, the use of normal in the phrase does not describe our current period, in which we’re going to continue seeing things we’ve never seen. For this reason, many climate vocalists have come up with a new mantra: “There is no new normal.”

This is echoed by a series of publications and blog posts all lamenting the overuse and sometimes misuse, of this artless cliché, the new normal. In other words, the phrase conveys exactly the message that climate scientists are trying to deliver is that we should not think of bad hurricanes as the New Normal, and get used to them, that things are changing dramatically, and we should do something on our part to at least, minimize the effect.

New Normal and CO2 Concentrations

The phrase began to be associated with global warming specifically around the early 2000s, and its use has ramped up in general over the past five or six years about extreme weather events driven by climate change.

The phrase was carved out to make people realize that the world’s carbon dioxide(CO2) concentrations today are higher than at any point in the past 800,000 years. Global atmospheric carbon dioxide was 409.8 ± 0.1 ppm in 2019, a new record high.

This dramatic rise in concentration is due to the unconscious consumption of fossil fuels for energy production and many other carbon-intensive activities since the industrial revolution. Natural gas releases 50% more CO2 than coal, the worst polluter. Carbon which was pulled out of the environment through photosynthesis for millions of years is now deported back to the environment in just a few years.

It is projected that the levels of energy-related fossil fuel emissions would continue to rise till 2050 if no actions are taken. The largest carbon dioxide (CO2) emitter is the Asia Pacific, where about 17.27 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide were emitted in 2019.

China, alone, produced about 28.8 percent of the global territorial fossil fuel CO2 emissions. And this excessive and unwanted carbon dioxide is one of many environmental evils. What happens when these record-breaking higher concentrations become a regular occurrence due to climate change? There is a risk that these exceptional events would become part of the “new normal”?

Average Temperature and Global Warming

As the fact has been established that the concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other Green House Gases are on a rise, there is no rocket science in understanding the fact that they contribute to Global Warming. If the elevated levels of carbon dioxide manifest the economic growth of any country, it is also the billboard of the GHG build up in the environment. This, in turn, contributes to the rise in the Global Mean Temperatures.

According to the NOAA 2019 Global Climate Summary, the combined land and ocean temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.07°C (0.13°F) per decade since 1880. The year 2019 ranks as the warmest on record. According to the Global Climate Risk Index, which was released by environmental and development organization Germanwatch, from 1998 to 2017, 526,000 people lost their lives while economic losses amounted to $3.47 trillion.

Amongst all other factors, there is enough scientific data available that the increased frequency of extreme weather events is related to climate change. Peak temperatures influence precipitation rates: For every additional degree Celsius, precipitation rates can increase from 5 to 10 percent.

We know that warmer water is more easily evaporated, which means there is more moisture available to fuel Florence or Harvey storms and to be released by such storms as rainfall.

Fears about New Normal

One should press people on what they think the Normal means? There are valid fears in the face of this normalcy, that we will succumb to this environmental deterioration in the name of economic growth and development, fear that people will adapt to these recurring storms and hurricanes, intensive rainfalls, and heat strokes.

The “new normal” cliché is intended to make people realize how weird the world’s weather has become, to encourage them to plan for a habitable climate. But what if the phrase is having just the opposite effect? What if it’s sending the message that global warming (or global weirding) is ordinary? It’s New but normal.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Global warming has been going on for so long that only a few people would remember living in a world without it. Some people who have crossed their fifties or seventies would have difficulty remembering what it was like during the earlier time in their lives, let alone in the earlier generations.

Even in the future, people may not even remember what it was like to live in a place where you could work and play outdoors without the risk of heatstroke or smog, or be comfortable indoors without air purifiers. And when people forget how things used to be, they no longer desire to protect or reclaim the lost resources. The old records belong to a world that is no longer existent, says Martin Hoerling, a research meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

How to make people Environment Sensitive?

The New Normal Climate perception is often associated with ShiftingBaseline Syndrome. It makes it difficult to convince people that the planet Earth is undergoing major changes like global warming and mass extinction when they are unable to perceive these dramatic changes? There are ways to help people remember.

One such approach is before-and-after photographs. This idea was widely appreciated in 2019 to anticipate the changes over the last decade 2009–2019 and many climate activists and Environmental NGOs showed us how the landscapes have changed drastically over a short period. The imagery of trends helps notice environmental and ecosystem degradation, along with a better understanding of the trends of temperature and precipitation.

The Young Generation today is seriously concerned about the gravely wounded planet they are going to inherit from us. Climate March was manifested last September 21–25, 2019, before the United Nations Climate Action Summit in which 150 countries participated.

Many protest strikes were led by young students and climate activists, highlighting countries most responsible for the climate abnormality and condemning the ineffective actions by Governments and World leaders. They were rebuked and criticized for their inaction despite the grave scientific shreds of evidence available. Governments were held responsible for the collapsing ecosystems and mass extinction of people and species as the consequences of climate change.

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

News Media has become much more willing to talk about the role of climate change in weather events. Moreover, being Eco-Friendly is a new trend. People are more conscious of their Carbon Footprint and prefer to use products that have minimal carbon emissions during their life cycles. This has a major impact on the consumer market and the economy of any country.

Countries are trying to comply with the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals. Even if we suddenly cut out our fossil fuel consumption, it would take decades to reverse or halt the impacts of climate change already set in motion.

The carbon dioxide pumped out of plants will stay stuck in the environment for a hundred years. We will be coping with nightmarish wildfires, disastrous tropical storms, tragic urban flooding and water scarcity, and deadly heatwaves for the rest of our lives.

As it would take generations for the full consequences of climate anomalies to play out, there will be many localized disasters along the way. Hence, we need to buckle up and be prepared to adapt to this New Normal along the way, fighting climate change.

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Living for E’s | Environment, Ecology, and Evolution | EcoBlogger

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Nida Riaz

Nida Riaz

Living for E’s | Environment, Ecology, and Evolution | EcoBlogger

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