Story at a glance

  • More extreme climate events are likely on the horizon, experts say, and are even more likely to occur without warning if humans don’t get a handle on greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Scientists have criticized world leaders at COP26 for not doing enough to curb emissions and protect forests.
  • Swaths of venomous scorpions invaded an Egyptian city this month, brought by severe flooding in a region where rainfall is extremely sparse.

A plague of venomous scorpions and snakes washed over a city in Egypt this month, swept into streets and homes by severe flooding in a region where it almost never rains. Climate experts say such extreme events are likely to happen more frequently — and without warning.

“Climate events are sudden,” Alexandra Zimmerman, a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Unit, told The Guardian this week. “We’re going to see changes in land use. Anywhere there’s biodiversity or wildlife in the way has a real potential for new conflicts that weren’t there before.”

Some environmentalists warning of more extreme climate events have criticized world leaders for making what they say are empty promises at the United Nation’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow earlier this month.

“COP26 was bad for nature because we are nowhere near limiting warming to 1.5 degrees,” Simon Lewis, a professor of global change science at University College London, told The Guardian. “Double the number of species will lose more than half of their climatically defined area at 2C than they would have at 1.5. So big changes are coming.”


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World leaders at COP26, including Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, Xi Jinping of China, and Vladimir Putin of Russia, committed to halt and reverse global deforestation by the end of the decade. 

That would avoid CO2 emissions roughly the size of Malaysia and equivalent to a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions from transportation from 2009 to 2018, according to the World Resources Institute.

But shortly after signing, Indonesia’s environment minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said in a statement on Facebook that “forcing Indonesia to zero deforestation in 2030 is obviously inappropriate and unfair” because Indonesia needs to prioritize development above carbon emissions.

Other leaders have not specified how they plan to monitor deforestation in their country, and some have warned that Brazil’s expanding tannery industry will essentially legalize deforestation.


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Published on Nov 19, 2021