Global Weirding – How the Climate is turning out to be unpredictable

By: Vineeth Penmetsa

As the world is developing at an increasing speed, warming of Earth seems to be inevitable. Anthropogenic climate change is predicted to alter the mean, intra, and interannual variability of the global climate.

Warming has triggered many changes to the Earth’s climate from extreme weather conditions to many other climatic events, such as droughts, heatwaves, and floods are the dominant ways in which people experience climate change. “Human-induced climate change has already increased the
number and strength of some of these extreme events.”

climate change
Image via SciTechDaily

For example, there has been an increase in the frequency and length of heatwaves observed across Europe, the growing intensity of heavy precipitation events in the Northern Hemisphere, and longer fire seasons in both Australia and the United States. The growing seasons are shifting. Winters are shorter, spring is arriving earlier, and the number of days for every season seems to be either increasing or decreasing. These changes affect the timing of many life cycles, such as blooming of flowers, pollination, bird migration, and many more.

Changes in these events can have an adverse effect on the ecosystems because different species respond to different environment and climate, resulting in a misalignment between species that may rely on one another.
Though scientists have laid down information for more than a century now that the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing the Earth’s surface temperature, it has only been a decade since the discovery of the rise in carbon dioxide level affecting the timing of the annual temperature cycle.

Global weirding – embraces all phenomena associated with climate change

Writers and climate scientists have found the terms “global warming” and “climate change” insufficient to the present global environmental conditions. “Global warming” connotes to be a comfortable term to describe the changes occurring, and “climate change” is more complete but obscures the drama of what is likely to happen.

Global weirding embraces all phenomena associated with climate change: heat waves, cold spells, floods, droughts, hurricanes, blizzards, plant and animal die-offs and population explosions, new animal migration changes, and more.

Global warming addresses change in average global temperatures but does not convey the range of severe weather-related events and changes in weather patterns that might occur as a consequence of climate change.

In contrast, global weirding is the best way to describe what we are seeing, as it applies to fluctuations on a shorter scale – the drier summers, the colder winters, and many other unpredictable calamities. Here, weirding implies something bizarre and unexpected. The science predicts that events now that are considered to be weird will become far more commonplace in the near future.

With global weirding taking place, a large scale of environmental activities are at stake: potential misalignment between lifecycle events of species that rely on one another; greater risk of frost damage, as the early arrival of warm temperatures might cause premature blossoming of many trees and flowers.

Some plants being vulnerable to frost, it particularly impacts the seed or the fruit production of these plants; increased risk of drought, due to the longer duration of summer and the early melting of snow; planting zones shifting towards the north; and pests, diseases may have a more significant impact as begin to feed and breed early in the season.

Shifting seasons also trigger more extensive floods and migrating species. These changes can have profound effects on species and ecosystems, as well as the human communities that depend on these systems for their ecosystem services. Though there have been many consequences with regards to climate change, droughts and heavy rainfalls could be seen at large across the globe, which in turn have an enormous impact on the people, and scientists have been successful in linking climate change to these.

India has been experiencing widespread drought since the year 2015

According to data for March 2019, about 42% of India’s land area is facing drought, with 6% exceptionally dry—four times the spatial extent of the drought last year due to failed monsoon rains that contribute 10-20
% of India’s rainfall was deficient by 44% in 2018 as per data from the India Meteorological Department. India has been experiencing widespread drought since the year 2015 due to the unusual warming of the Pacific
Ocean, which in turn makes Indian summers warmer and hence, reduced rainfall.

Droughts worsen farm distress, exacerbate groundwater extraction, increase migration from rural to urban areas, and further inflame water conflicts between states and between farms, cities, and industries. Four
out of fifteen places in India having been listed among the world’s hottest 15 places, it went on to have eight places out of twenty-four most rainfall across the globe during August 2019.

From heat waves to flash floods, India has witnessed extreme weather conditions during the year. Though southern and northern parts of India were striving with drought-like conditions during the summer, the north-east coastal areas have been battered with a torrential downpour. These dire conditions are a result of “Global Weirding” and would have adverse effects in the coming future.

Over the past few decades, mammals and birds have extinct at an unprecedented rate, i.e. 7000 times higher. The chances are high that if our days were even twice as hot, or rainfall twice ad deep, we would already be
dead or working very hard to change things. Faced with far more rapid change in species loss, we do not appear unduly exercised. If we can sustain the variety of species and their populations, we will have sustained the only renewable, self-replicating parts of nature.

Retaining a variety of individuals and species permits the genetic adaptability necessary to respond to changing environments, such as those created by global weirding. The capability to respond to the evolving environments helps to sustain future productivity, which in turn facilitates future economic opportunities.

As it is going to get harder as we move on with time, we cannot be climate-proof. Hence, we must be climate resilient which means finding and creating flexibility and innovation to tackle these extreme weather conditions.

(The Final Stand is a student run law and policy initiative focussing on climate change and environmental issues. Their Instagram and Twitter)

(The views expressed in the article are the author’s own. Let Me Breathe neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

Vineeth Penmetsa

Vineeth Penmetsa

I am a second-year law student at OP Jindal Global University. I am interested in environmental laws and would like to work upon it in the near future. I have interned at The Final Stand, a law and policy initiative for climate change and environmental conservation, and worked on the pollution and climate change within India and global weirding.

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