Home >Lounge >Features >Climate Change Tracker: The heat is on

The only good thing to come out of the pandemic and the lockdown is pollution-free skies. In India alone, the complete lack of economic activity has ensured that the aerosol concentration above north India has gone down drastically, according to US space agency Nasa. The result is unbelievably clear skies and low levels of pollution.

However, this is just a brief snapshot of what a world free of fossil fuel might look like. As far as the bigger picture is concerned, 2020 is still on course to being the hottest year on record. Earlier this year, places like Greenland and Antarctica had established new heat records, even as a new study led by scientists from the UK Met office and the University of Hamburg concluded ice-free Arctic summers are inevitable within the next 30 years.

Click here to listen to all the episodes from the first season of Mint Climate Change Tracker podcast

So even if fresh greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) have declined due to the pandemic, global heating continues, as built-up atmospheric GHG levels continue to rise. According to independent calculations by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) and the UK Met Office, there’s a 50-75% chance that 2020 will be the hottest year recorded, overtaking the current record holder 2016. Even if that doesn’t happen, Noaa is certain 2020 will be one of the hottest five years.

The world is still inching closer to another ominous landmark: global temperatures rising by 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. According to the live online tracker Globalwarmingindex.com, run by the Oxford University Environmental Change Institute, human-induced warming stands at 1.14 degrees Celsius and climbing. The global average temperatures in 2019 were 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The UN-mandated safe threshold of temperature increase is less than 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius.

So while current low emissions give us cleaner air and blue skies,this will be a brief blip in the inexorable march of climate change unless the world finds a way to move away from fossil fuels.

Follow the column with #MintClimateTracker. Click here to listen to the first season of the Mint Climate Change Tracker podcast hosted by Bibek Bhattacharya

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