When the climate change becomes a climate crisis

Summer climate crisis cases

”Our relationship with nature is broken. But relationships can change. When we protect nature – we are nature protecting itself.” – Greta Thunberg

While Covid-19 cases in the world are lowering, nature is giving more signs that we are on the edge of another global disaster. 

For years scientists have published data on the effect humans have on our planet if we keep living in the same way as we do. This summer there have been more than a dozen critical climate crisis cases all over the world.

Wildfires, our closest climate crisis in Greece

Turkey is burning, Turkey is being burned

28th of July was the start of many catastrophic events in Turkey, being one of the main climate crisis of the summer. Multiple tourist destinations and villages nearby are in flames. Villagers lost their homes, people and animals have been found dead. Tourists from surrounding hotels and attractions were evacuated on boats 

Locals are not satisfied with the way Turkish government is handling the situation and are now seeking help from social media with a hashtag #TurkeyIsBurning and #TurkeyNeedsHelp. Trending pictures and videos featuring regular people asking other governments to help save the natural beauty that Turkey has. The fire is raging across more than 60 locations on the beautiful turquoise coast and mountains.

Yasin Akgul/AFP/Getty Images

In the last decade, there have been an average of more than 2,600 forest fires in Turkey, but last year the number rose to almost 3,400.

Dr. Bekir Pakdemirli, the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of the Republic of Turkey wrote to Twitter on 1st of August:

“We have brought 107 of 112 forest fires under control between July 28 and August 1, 2021.

 Our efforts to control the ongoing 5 fires continue uninterruptedly.”

Credits: Twitter

On Wednesday, 4 of August, fires reached a coal-fueled power plant in southwest Turkey and nearby areas. The plant was being evacuated along with the seaside area of Oren. Strong winds made the fires unpredictable. Authorities ensure that safety measures have been taken and the hydrogen tanks were emptied. Flammable substances have been removed.

In the past week, eight people and countless animals have died because of the fires. According to yesterday’s information 167 fires had been brought under control and 16 continued in five provinces.

Greek’s climate crisis – Athens, Rhodes, Thessaloniki

Turkey is not the only country who is struggling with wildfires. Social media heated up with posts using a hashtag #GreeceIsBurning and #PrayForGreece. 

Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, said that this summer’s the worst heat wave since 1987. He also urged locals to limit their electricity usage by adjusting the temperature of air conditioners and turning off electric water heaters when they are not in use.

Several areas north of Athens, islands of Evia, Kos and Rhodes are battling with fire that is burning hectares of forests. A total of 81 fires started in Greece on Tuesday 3rd of August. Greek government stated that between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, 41 more fires broke out across the nation.

In Mid-July Philippion Hotel in Thessaloniki had to evacuate because of a wildfire in Seich Sou (Σέιχ Σου) forest. The cause of the fire is unknown although the combination of dry weather, a heat wave and strong winds is a potential one.

Yesterday, 5 of August, an emergency message was sent to people in Greece saying to be cautious and call the fire department for any fire suspension. The wildfires have become closer to everyone in Greece, making the climate crisis something that appears everywhere: news, social media.

Giorgos Moutafis/Reuters

Siberia – East Russia is on fire

The Siberian region of eastern Russia was also hit by unprecedented wildfires. Officials described this summer as the driest in 150 years. More than 1.5 million hectares of land has already burned down and locals are in fear for their health and property. Russian army has sent planes to extinguish the fires from above.

The explanation to those fires is the record-breaking heat wave in May and June that parts of Russia and eastern Europe were hit by.

Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images

Italy’s flames playing their role in the West of Europe’s climate crisis

Blazes have also affected the Italian island of Sicily which was the biggest on 31st of July. “We have received 558 requests for help in extinguishing fires from the regions since June 15,” stated Civil Defense General Manager Fabrizio Curcio at a news conference.

These fires are not even half of what is happening globally. The fire map of NASA shows huge areas of wildfires all over the world. The biggest red area according to the map is in Africa which has no informative articles. The Bootleg Fire, in the state of Oregon is also battling the third-largest fire in the history of Oregon since 1900.

The EU Commissioner for the environment, Virginijus Sinkevičius, wrote to twitter:
We are fighting some of the worst #wildfires we’ve seen in decades. 
But this summer’s floods, heatwaves and forest fires can become our new normality.
We must ask ourselves: is this the world we want to live in?
We need immediate actions #ForNature before it’s too late.

SEA LIFE

The situation with wildfires is not the only climate crisis that the world is battling with. There are multiple shocking events happening with our lakes, seas and oceans which are potentially caused by human activity.

Marmara sea snot

Marmara sea near Istanbul, Turkey, has been struggling with sea snot outbreaks since 2007 but this June was the biggest one yet. Sea snot is a thick, foamy layer of marine mucilage that floats on the water and is dangerous to our sea life. Once sunk, it will cause the death of the corals and shellfish who are living and cleansing the water from the bottom of the sea. This is stopping algae from photosynthesising, the sludge is depleting the sea of vital oxygen.

On 12th of July, after cleaning the sea for almost a month, the Minister of Environment and Urbanisation Murat Kurum posted to Twitter saying “Our sea is clean and blue”.

Credits: The Economist digital newspaper

Pemex gulf oil leak

When we talk about the climate crisis, the most shocking example that we can find was recorded on the 2nd of July by a helicopter showing shocking footage of the “eye of fire” – A raging fire on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. Nearby is the offshore oil platform Pemex which is the Mexican state-owned petroleum company managed and operated by the Mexican government. The company is the 7th most polluting in the world according to The Guardian.

 According to Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Pemex executives, the fire wasn’t caused by an oil spill but a pipeline was leaking gas. The President said that the conflagration was ignited by an electrical storm but investigations were called by environmentalist groups who are not convinced by the company’s assurances.

Scene from a viral video

Climate crisis in Argentina: pollution in the Lake

In the Southern Patagonia region, a lagoon in Argentina turned bright pink. An unexplained phenomenon that local environmentalists fear could be harmful and caused by industrial contamination, a chemical used to preserve prawns for export. 

Environmental activist Pablo Lada, who lives close to the lagoon, told AFP news agency that the bright pink color remained for more than a week. “Those who should be in control are the ones who authorize the poisoning of people,” he stated.

AFP

Greenland melting

27 of July hosted yet another climate crisis that affects the world more than we can imagine. Caused by high temperatures, Greenland’s ice sheet lost 8.5bn tons of surface mass in just one day. Followed by another 8.4bn tons two days later reported by the Polar Portal monitoring website. The disappearance of it is so large that only the meltwater on the first day could cover the entire US state of Florida in 5cm of water. 

Greenland reached its all-time record temperature of 19.8C. The reason why this is a serious climate crisis problem is that if all the ice in Greenland melted, the global sea level would rise 6 meters.

Scientists have calculated that Greenland’s ice is melting faster than any time in the past 12,000 years. Although the odds of all the ice melting in Greenland is unlikely to happen in our lifetime, seeing how intense global heating is getting, there just might be a slight chance.

Steffen Olsen/Centre for Ocean and Ice at the/AFP/Getty Images

Dead fish in USA

While reading articles about the beaches near the Gulf of Mexico laden with dead, rotting sea life I discovered that most of them wrote about it as a natural disaster – which it is. Although after just a little bit of more digging, it turns out that the “red tide”, that is causing the death of those fish, is highly man-made. 

According to the National Ocean Service, “red tide” is a common term used for a harmful algal bloom. It occurs when colonies of algae—simple plants that live in the sea and freshwater—grow out of control while producing toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, and birds.

According to the Washington Post, a local Glen Nguyen drove his boat out onto Tampa Bay, Florida on 11th of July. Only to discover a terrifying sight and smell. “Never, ever, have I seen it this bad,” he said.

The main problems to address to limit red tide populating: air pollution, urban runoff and stormwater runoff according to START, a non-profit grass roots organization based in Florida. 

Photo by Larry Busby

LAND

Landslide

A shocking video hit the online platforms with dramatic visuals of a massive landslide sweeping away a portion of road in Himachal Pradesh, India. Landslides can be initiated in slopes already on the verge of movement by:
1.Rainfall
2. Snowmelt
3. Changes in water level
4. Stream erosion
5. Changes in groundwater
6. Earthquakes
7. Volcanic activity
8. Disturbance by human activities…
… or any combination of these factors. 

 The chief triggering factor which is caused by human activity is deforestation. According to Youmatter, this happens because roots help fix trees in the ground; but also the sun-blocking tree cover helps the soil to slowly dry out. As a result, deforestation will probably mean the soil will become increasingly fragile, leaving the area more vulnerable to natural disasters such as landslides and floods.

Floodings – Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Turkey, China

The deluge in central Europe has raised fears that human-caused climate disruption is making extreme weather even worse than predicted.

According to the World Health Organization Floods are often caused by heavy rainfall, rapid snowmelt or a storm surge from a tropical cyclone or tsunami in coastal areas. Flash floods are caused by rapid and excessive rainfall that raises water heights quickly, and rivers, streams, channels or roads may be overtaken. 

This summer the biggest floods were happening in Germany. According to Frankfurter Allgemeine, the storm that killed dozens of people so far has not happened since the storm surge in Hamburg seen in 1962, when more than 300 people had died.

Belgium held a national day of mourning to remember the lives lost. Parts of the country saw considerable damage, with cars having been swept away by the heavy rains and thunderstorms. 

Also Switzerland got hit with heavy thunderstorms overnight 24 to 25 July which affected areas of Bern, Lucerne, Neuchâtel and Schwyz Cantons in particular. More than 500 incidents were reported to the police.

China reported about 50 people missing after the region was engulfed by severe flooding caused by heavy rainfall. Almost 13 million people were affected and nearly 9,000 homes were damaged. City’s subway system was also flooded. The mayor of Zhengzhou, Hou Hong, confirmed the death toll in a news conference, telling reporters that 39 people were found dead in underground car parks.

Many other countries were affected by heavy rain and flash floods.

Connecting climate change to floods can be tricky. The limited data on the past floods make it difficult to measure them against the climate-driven trends of floods today.
IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reported that the climate crisis had influenced the water-related variables that contribute to floods.

Liège, Belgium
Bruno Fahy / Belga / AFP / Getty

Highest temperature recorded

On June 29th Canada recorded it’s new heat record reaching 49.6C. The temperature smashed the previous Canadian record of 45C from 1937. Dozens of people have died in Canada amid an unprecedented heatwave. Vancouver police responded to more than 130 deaths caused by the weather conditions. Victims were mostly elderly and people with serious health conditions.

Mexico also reported its hottest August day on record reaching 50.4C which is 0.2C higher than last year.

Experts say climate change is expected to increase the extreme weather events, such as heatwaves. However, linking any single event to global warming is complicated.

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Greta Thunberg, climate- and environmental activist, wrote to twitter on August 2:

“Wildfires, floods, droughts, heatwaves and other (un)natural disasters rage all over the world.

Many now ask “What will it take for people in power to act?”.

Well, it will many things, but above all it will take: massive pressure from media and massive pressure from the public.”

Each year is more and more crucial for the world population to start acting up, pushing world leaders to take immediate action for climate change mitigation and change our habits which cause planet Earth to change in those drastic ways.

Post Author: Carol Valjaots

Tere! My name is Carol and I’m from Estonia. I’m in charge of video- and photography in Balkan Hotspot. This is my first experience with video so I’m very excited to learn more from other volunteers. I enjoy singing - karaokes are my favorite, painting - all of my denim jackets have different artworks and photography - I would climb anywhere to get an amazing picture.

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