Looking back: How did climate change alter the world this year?
2020 is on course to become the third-warmest year on record; the development put in motion several catastrophic events
A look back at 2020 evokes an unsettling picture: It was, after all, the year when the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 held the world by a thread, causing massive economic setbacks and upending lives. At the same time, the climate crisis — while it took a backseat in the face of the health crisis — continued to contribute to volatile weather events.
Optimism had prevailed when the lockdown was announced; observers believed that the shutting down of all economic activities to curb the spread of the virus would bring down the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The belief, however, was only a blip in the long-term GHG emission trends, as the latest State of the Global Climate provisional report by World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) found. It was published December 1, 2020.
The report stated that the reduction in GHG gases “will be practically indistinguishable from the natural inter-annual variability, driven largely by the terrestrial biosphere.” It added that the real-time data from specific locations indicated increasing levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) in 2020.
CO2, CH4 and N2O are the three primary GHGs that cause anthropogenic global warming. N2O seems to be becoming the next big concern in terms of its increasing concentrations in the atmosphere and global warming potential.
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