Our future will be forged in the Paris Conference
- At COP21, the 21st Conference of the Parties about the climate, almost 200 governments from around the world will sign the most important agreement for the future of life on Earth.
- The average temperature of the atmosphere rising more than 2 degrees before the end of the century must be avoided at all costs.
- Meteorology, key in avoiding damage, is the science that will best guide us to understand what happens.
- The Foundation receives an honorary mention from the European Meteorological Society for the scope of the We Are Water Film Festival.
At the Paris Conference on the Climate (COP21) which will be held from the 30 November to the 11 December, humanity will deal with changing a sombre future. Climate change is the unquestionable evidence and the majority of us already perceive it: heat increases and the world population observes climatic statistics with concern.
During recent years, the planet has beaten all temperature records almost every month. Here are some examples: last August, September and October were the warmest in many observatories across the world since records were kept; after the wave of terrible fires in California, warnings were extended until this November; for the western states of the USA, last October was the warmest since records were kept at the end of the 19th century; and on the Mediterranean Spanish coast, this summer saw the highest registered temperatures since 1950, with an anomaly of 2.1 degrees above the average.
It will be warmer, indeed, but the increase in temperature will cause other phenomena which are also already being triggered off: the violence of cyclones will increase, there will be more flooding and the droughts will advance in large extensions of the planet, becoming worse where they already ravage.
The enemy is gas emissions and the battle is complicated
Scientists have shown that the atmosphere is reheated due to the greenhouse effect caused mainly by CO2 emissions, although also to blame are methane and nitrogen oxides, among others. The enemy is very clearly defined, but the solutions are complex.
Science had evidence of the effect of these gases in the 1970s, but the political community reacted too late, since it was not until 1997 when the industrialised countries gave a commitment, in Kyoto, to undertake a series of measures to reduce emissions. The signatory governments of these countries agreed to reduce by at least 5% on average the emissions of greenhouse effect gases between 2008 and 2012, taking as a reference the 1990 levels. The agreements, however, were broken in diverse ways by the main economies of the planet and, among them, the most polluting, such as the USA and China, so that the Kyoto summit has been catalogued as a failure.
Today, at the COP21 in Paris, the most industrialised nations will work on reaching an agreement that does not end in failure and there real grounds for hope. Firstly, both the USA and China have shown a serious commitment to reducing their emissions in the short, medium and long term, and also because last September, almost half of the world’s governments had already presented their respective commitments. Today no-one questions the evidence of the problem that may seriously affect life on Earth.
What is the goal of Paris?
One of the key items of data provided by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) of the United Nations is that the temperature at the end of this century will have increased by between 3.7 and 4.8 degrees if measures of control are not adopted. Scientists state that this increase will bring disastrous consequences: many coastal cities will be flooded due to the rising of the sea level as a result of the melting of the polar ice caps, whole islands from Polynesia will sink, droughts will sweep large extensions of the current temperate zones, the majority of the glaciers and ice fields would disappear, and the violent meteorological phenomena would cause unforeseeable disasters.
What is the limit so that this does not occur? Scientists have set at two degrees the maximum increase that the planet can allow on reaching 2100. The IPCC argues that to achieve this we need to reduce emissions of the harmful gases by between 40% and 70% in 2050, and reach a zero level by the end of this century.
This is the main objective of the COP21 in Paris. And there is no plan B. The negative consequences of the delay that has resulted from the failure to comply with the Kyoto agreements are now irreversible, but the good news is that the governments are fully aware of it. For this reason the EU has already suggested the need for the commitments of each state be revised on the increase every five years.
- © NASA
All we need to know is in the AR5
The governments that meet will have on the agenda, among other issues, the basic document: the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC, better known as the AR5, which constitutes the basic reference for the heads of policies and scientific initiatives regarding climate change. The IPCC is an organism founded by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). In the AR5 the IPCC provides an assessment of the scientific, technical and socioeconomic information about climate change, its potential effects and options for its adaptation and its lessening. It is a document that should be on every bookshelf in order to understand what we are facing.
[The main conclusions of the AR5 were presented by Dr. Jean Pascale van Ypersele, vice-president of the IPCC, in the Social Perceptions of Water and Climate workshop that, in the setting of World Water Day 2015, the We Are Water Foundation held in the Roca Barcelona Gallery (see the presentation of Van Ypersele) in collaboration with the IABM (International Association of Broadcast Meteorology)]
Meteorology, efficient guide
In this uncertain race that we must all run together, meteorologists will be the eye-witnesses to the evolution of climate change and the lookouts of an increasingly messed up atmosphere. Meteorology must provide keys to governments and the public that enable avoiding or palliating the damages that may arise as a result of the clear global warming. It will thus play a fundamental role in all the strategies of mitigation that will probably be dealt with in Paris. Meteorology is also the science of the environment that is most in contact with us and is already our most efficient guide in understanding what is happening.
Meteorologists clearly understood their role when they met at the 5th European Meteorological Society (EMS) Annual Meeting & 12th European Conference on Applications of Meteorology (ECAM) las September in Sofia (Bulgaria). The scientists of the atmosphere showed in their speeches and interventions the size of this challenge that millions of people depend on and which affects the entire planet in the short term. The expectations of the meteorologists were also placed in the COP21, whose resolutions will be the main reference to compare the advances made in mitigation of damages, one of the major problems caused by the increase in violence of cyclones and storms, for example.
Forecasting models, the central axis of all progress
In fact, meteorology is at the cutting edge of the fight for an improved prediction of the phenomena and thus the ability to be able to give valid warning. This is the fundamental axis around which revolves the advances made in this science of the atmosphere in order to avoid damages as much as possible. In Sofia, the meteorologists explained the modern NWP (Numerical Weather Prediction), the numerical models they use to emit forecasts, the optimisation of the observations and the application of the big data to operative meteorology with the use of the current super-computers ensuring the forecasts reach the end user.
It also covered the issue of understanding the models that the atmospheric processes describe, the water cycle and how this behaves on reaching the surface of the Earth. There was a very intense debate on the climate, its appropriate monitoring and the comprehension of the detection processes of climate change.
Recognition of the work of the We Are Water Foundation
The importance of meteorological communication and education was covered in several debates in which the participants showed the growing importance of the diffusion of meteorological knowledge and the communication of forecasts, especially those that affect warnings of violent phenomena.
In this context the EMS awarded the We Are Water Foundation an honorary mention for the scope of the We Are Water Film Festival as a project of diffusion to raise awareness among the public about the problem of water in the world.
ABOUT THE WE ARE WATER FOUNDATION
The We Are Water Foundation, promoted by the Roca company, has as objectives, on the one hand, to raise awareness amongst the general public and the administrations about the need to promote a new culture of water and, on the other hand, relieve the negative effects related to the lack of hydric resources, through the development of cooperation and aid programmes alongside diverse organisations such as Education without Frontiers, the Vicente Ferrer Foundation, Intermón Oxfam and UNICEF.