OPINION

Ignition point

Ignition point

If our cold March and relatively cool April made us wonder whether the planet really is heating up, we need only look to the East, where, since March, countries at about the same latitude as us (and some more northerly) are dealing with unusually high temperatures. 

In India, this was the warmest March in 122 years. There and in Pakistan, some areas are registering temperatures touching on 50 degrees Celsius. 

In the Middle East, Russia, Central Asia and Iran, too, temperatures are much higher than usual. 

Even as dams and reservoirs dry up, rapidly melting glaciers threaten many populated areas with floods. 

Climate change is measured globally in 30-year periods. Clearly, these temperatures and the severe weather phenomena of recent years are playing out on a planet in which is 1 degree warmer than a century ago. 

This “deviation” has caused a chain of events in which no region remains untouched. 

In Greece, aside from extreme weather that we have seen in summer and winter, we expect summers to be longer and hotter, as we saw in recent years, with high temperatures and monstrous fires. 

In India, half the wheat crop is expected to be lost, worsening the food shortages and high prices that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has caused on the global market. 

The same applies in the energy sector, where high demand, tight supplies and high prices are prompting a return to dirtier forms of production, jeopardizing the global target of limiting the rise in temperature to 1.5 degrees. 

As more regions struggle to maintain their farming and economies, hunger and war will drive great numbers of people to seek salvation elsewhere, in countries where citizens are already struggling with high prices and insecurity. 

We are right to worry about what further ills the war in Ukraine may bring. But the message from the East today is that nothing should distract us from the fact that Earth is already close to ignition point.