Droughts are causing havoc in a number of countries (Picture: EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid)

The failure of those in charge to cut down on fossil fuel usage has meant that the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is reaching near‑record-breaking highs. The increase in greenhouse gases, caused mainly by burning fossil fuels, agriculture and increasing numbers of wildfires, traps more heat in the planet’s atmosphere, leading to a warmer world. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere throughout 2023 was greater than in every other year since 1959—apart from 2014 and 2015. So said a new report by The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa).

Methane, which is responsible for around 30 percent of temperature rises, has increased by 5.5 percent over the past decade. And the amount of nitrous oxide, which can last in the atmosphere for a century, being pumped out is now 25 percent higher than during pre‑industrial times. Noaa said these changes indicate a significant change in the chemical composition of the atmosphere that wasn’t as pronounced even a decade ago. 

Vanda Grubišić, the director of Noaa’s global monitoring laboratory, said, “As these numbers show, we still have a lot of work to do to make meaningful progress in reducing the amount of greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere.” People across the world are feeling the devastating effects of hotter temperatures. 

An estimated 2.7 million people in Zimbabwe, in Africa, could face hunger after a drought decimated maize crops. The shortage of grain means bosses’ have pushed up food prices and many people are being forced to drink from unsafe water sources prompting outbreaks of cholera. Lack of rain has also led to blackouts, as Zimbabwe relies mainly on hydroelectric power for its electricity. 

The Zimbabwean government has declared a state of disaster and similar states of emergency have been called in Zambia and Malawi. 

Drought in Africa has been blamed on El Niño climate patterns—a weather system that leads to warmer sea surface temperatures. But that weather phenomenon will only compound soaring temperatures caused by rising emissions. Meanwhile, those at the top of society are trying to crack down on climate activists who are fighting for a sustainable future.

Climate leader Greta Thunberg was arrested twice last Saturday at an Extinction Rebellion protest in the Netherlands. She was blocking the road to demand the Dutch government stop subsidising fossil fuel companies. 

Before her arrest, she told reporters, “We are in a planetary emergency, and we are not going to stand by and let people lose their lives and livelihood and be forced to become climate refugees when we can do something.”

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