Environmental problems concern not only the present but also the future, for they decide whether the coming generations will live on earth safely and happily. —— Anthropologist Hu Jiaqi
Ocean waves rise as high as thousands of meters. Overwhelming flood swallows up everything on earth. I wonder whether you still have an impression of the scene in the movie “2012”.
But now, ten years later, what we face are the dry river beds, hardened soil and burning forests. The surging floods shown in the sci-fi film are no where to be seen. Instead, in the summer of 2022, we’re living in a burning world.
In China, the rainfall in the Yangtze River Basin was significantly less in July. The average precipitation was 48.2% less than that of the same period of the year, marking the lowest since 1961. Sichuan, Chongqing, Jiangxi and other places have suffered from persistent extreme high temperatures, and the drought in the Yangtze River basin is getting more critical. So far, the severe drought area has reached 89,000 square kilometers.
In Europe, France experienced its driest July on record, with the national average rainfall decreasing by 84% compared with the average rainfall of July since 1991. The continent of Europe is going through an unprecedented state of drought, according to the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre. The once-in-500-year severe drought covers nearly 47 percent of the continent and influences nearly two-thirds of it.
German journalist Olaf Koens reported, a huge stone was exposed on the dry bed of Elbe River, which has “If you see me, weep” carved into it. As early as in 1616, the “hunger stones” were used to mark low-water levels and the years of droughts by Europeans as a warning that droughts and famine-related hardships will occur if the water sinks to this level again.
In fact, a series of problems arising from heat and droughts have emerged.
France’s nuclear reactors are struggling to generate electricity. Électricité de France (EDF) has announced that its nuclear reactors will produce less energy as the temperature of the water used to cool the reactors rises.
Sichuan is faced with drinking water shortages. The Jialing River is a major tributary of the Yangtze River in the Sichuan Basin, and its riverbed has been exposed because of severe drought. In Chongqing, 66 rivers have been cut off; 25 reservoirs have dried up; 35 counties and 585 towns are suffering from a lack of drinking water.
Forest fires rage across Europe constantly. Figures from European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) show that over 740,000 hectares of forest was burned across the continent between January and mid-August, the most at this time of the year since records began in 2006.
This summer, many Europeans realized for the first time how tough climate change can be, the Swiss newspaper “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” comments in a recent review article. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) predicts that heatwaves are expected to become common in the future owing to the rapidly changing climate caused by human activities. And temperatures in Europe will rise faster than in other regions.
In fact, no country can be spared in the face of a global climate crisis. The earth is trying to regain its climatic balance in a fierce way. If greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, global warming will be exacerbated. What is going on right now is just an “omen of the future”.
Just as the anthropologist Hu Jiaqi said:“Environmental problems concern not only the present but also the future”. Every little thing we do is greatly affecting our future. The environmental problems we are facing today are caused by ourselves. Even if we may hesitate, fear or go by fits and starts, we have to take a step forward and do something to solve it.
People of the past had been looking forward to the present, and people today are looking forward to the future. If we still treat the environment with indifference, what awaits us will be a day full of despair and fear.
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