The Tears of the Earth
The Tears of the Earth
  • 김선화 기자
  • 승인 2018.09.03 09:00
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Extreme weather continues to strike the earth. As of August 16th, 2018 a heat wave had continued for 29.2 days. It is a new Korean record. The longest heat wave recorded before then lasted for 25.5 days in 1994. This year, the city of Hongcheon, Gangwon Province set the Korean heat record on August 1st with a temperature of 40.7℃, according to Korea's weather observation history. The city of Seoul also hit record high with a temperature of 39.6 ℃, the hottest record in 111 years.

In contrast to the heat, the typical rainy season in Korea which usually lasts from June to July has had some major pattern changes. In 2018, the rainy season was only 15 days. For the past five years before this year, the average rainy season has been 32 days. Also, 16 typhoons veered away from the Korean Peninsula. The Korean Peninsula has broken various records related to heat waves.

Many countries also suffered from record-breaking hot weather. In some nations of Southern Europe, Spain and Portugal reached temperatures of over 47℃. In Germany, the river Rhine dried up. As a result, a ship that sank 123 years ago was exposed. In Japan, 138 people died from the heat from April to August. In California of US, there were 18 wildfires. The spread was enhanced by winds and the hot summer temperatures dried out thousands of acres. The extreme heat also takes a toll on the wheat crops. Because of the decrease in crop production, the global wheat prices have risen by more than 30 percent. The UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced this year that temperatures around the world, including the North Pole, rose and suffered from abnormal heat waves.

What causes the heat wave? The direct cause of the heat wave is the heat dome phenomenon. The heat dome occurs when high pressure in the upper atmosphere which acts as a lid, moves too slow and prevents hot air from escaping. However, the heat dome phenomenon is just an immediate cause. There is a deeper real reason. The primary cause is global warming.

Here is the process of how global warming makes heat waves. Global warming makes the Arctic warmer and jet streams/flow weaken. Jet streams are the strong winds that move from west to east in the upper levels of the atmosphere. It controls broad weather patterns. The weakened jet streams make high-pressure stay around the northern hemisphere and that causes heat waves all over the globe.

Global warming causes not only heat waves but also natural disasters such as big forest fires and earthquakes. For example, Indonesia recently had two earthquakes of the magnitudes of 6.4 and 7.0 between late July and early August. Indonesia is on the Ring of Fire, the circum-Pacific orogenic zone which 90 percent of the world's earthquakes and tsunamis occur. At the same time, it also in the Alps-Himalaya seismic zone. Researchers at the Auvergne University announced that global warming creates earthquakes. When the global warming melts the glaciers, the pressure of earth's crust changes in every area. After that, earth's crust moves quickly, and it accelerates the earthquake occurrence. According to a team of scientists from Leeds University, the global warming causes not only earthquakes but volcanic eruptions on the same principle.

Global warming is in progress and on a pace far faster than scientists predicted. In response, what is the world trying to do? There is a Conferences of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The purpose of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is to curb emissions of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide and harmful gases like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). The Conferences of Parties and the member countries of UNFCCC holds a climate change-themed conference every year. On December 12th, 2015, COP21 made a new climate change policy as a Kyoto Protocol expires in 2020. According to Kyoto Protocol, parts of developed countries were obligated to impose greenhouse gas reduction measures. In the new climate change policy, which is called the Paris Agreement, all countries were obligated to reduce greenhouse gasses. The Paris Agreement's goal is to decrease the global average temperature to 2℃ above pre-industrial levels. Also, each nation names their own climate change response goal NDC (nationally determined contributions) and submits the results every five years. In the past, Kyoto Protocol focused on greenhouse gas reduction. The Paris Climate Agreement includes six key aspects including greenhouse gas reduction, adaptation, finance, technology, capacity-building support, and transparency.

This summer, a tremendous heat wave struck the world. According to scientists because of the excessive heat, global temperatures will counterbalance with a cold wave that will sweep the world in winter. It is hard to remove CO2 because the CO2 which causes global warming remains in the air for 50 to 200 years. "It is possible that the human race could become extinct, but it is not inevitable. I think it is almost certain that a disaster, such as nuclear war or global warming will befall the earth within a thousand years.", Stephen Hawking said. Earth, often referred to as the blue marble as it appears in space, has sadly changed in color to green and then brown within a few months due to the heat. We should try to slow down global warming.


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