A new report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations’ arm for climate research, has findings that ought to make us sit up and listen. Based on a close analysis of climate dangers, it warns of the impact of “retreating ice, record sea levels, increasing ocean heat and acidification, and extreme weather", all of which are in evidence. It also corroborates the latest studies of the European Union’s climate monitor, which revealed that 2019 was the second hottest year on record after 2016. The WMO forecasts extreme weather conditions for 2020 and beyond, and cites the prolonged bushfires that are ravaging Australia as a case in point.

Though bushfires are a seasonal occurrence in Australia, the infernos this year have already led to a staggering 1 billion animal deaths, 28 human deaths, and incinerated 100,000 sq. km of land—an area larger than South Korea. Shocking images and video clips of burning koalas, baby kangaroos, forests and property have caught the world’s attention. Parts of California, Scandinavia and Russia got torched by wildfires, too, and countries like India saw record rainfall in some parts and droughts in others, while the polar ice caps shrank alarmingly.

The writing is on the wall: Rising global temperatures are no blip, but a clear and present threat to the planet. Denial will no longer do, as Greta Thunberg spelt it out. Those of us who care have our work cut out. We must speed up collective action towards limiting temperature increases to 1.5 degree Celsius, as agreed upon in the landmark Paris accord, or be prepared to watch the world burn.

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