Shared from the 9/28/2020 The Denver Post eEdition
By Cara Anna The Associated Press
JOHANNESBURG» In a year of cataclysm, some world leaders at the annual United Nations meeting are taking the long view, warning: If COVID-19 doesn’t kill us, climate change will.
With Siberia seeing its warmest temperature on record this year and enormous chunks of ice caps in Greenland and Canada sliding into the sea, countries are acutely aware there’s no vaccine for global warming.
“We are already seeing a version of environmental Armageddon,” Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said, citing wildfires in the western U.S. and noting that the Greenland ice chunk was larger than a number of island nations.
This was meant to be the year “we took back our planet,” he said. Instead, the coronavirus has diverted resources and attention from what could have been the marquee issue at this U.N. gathering.
Meanwhile, the U.N. global climate summit has been postponed to late 2021.
That hasn’t stopped countries, from slowly sinking island nations to parched African ones, from speaking out.
“In another 75 years, many ... members may no longer hold seats at the United Nations if the world continues on its present course,” the Alliance of Small Island States and the Least Developed Countries Group said.
The main goal of the 2015 Paris climate accord is to limit the rise in global temperatures to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial times, but scientists say the world is on track to soar past that. A new study found that if the world warms another 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit, the West Antarctic ice sheet will reach a point of irreversible melting.
It has enough water to raise global sea levels by 16 feet.
The Pacific island nation of Palau hasn’t had a single COVID-19 infection, but President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. warns it’s the rising seas that will bring the country down.
“The momentary drop in (carbon) emissions this year cannot be allowed to generate any complacency about global progress,” he said, referring to the sparkling skies that followed lockdowns to slow the spread of the virus around the world.
Meanwhile, pollution has crept back up as restrictions ease.