The red zones of the Covid and of the climate.

Summer, with the heat, is the occasion for beautiful walks, along the sea, in the countryside or in the mountains. In the Alps, at the Col du Mont St Bernard, the landscape is grandiose, wild and magnificent. I went there a few months ago. It is a paradise for hiking, meditation and physical exercise. At first glance, a phenomenon catches the eye: you can see that over the years, multimillenarian glaciers have disappeared. Such an observation on climate change corroborates the data provided by the oldest meteorological station in the Alpine arc. It is located in the Great St Bernard Hospice at an altitude of over 2400 m. An analysis of the daily temperature readings, which have been painstakingly collected by the measuring equipment over 150 years, shows an average increase of around 2.5°C. A map produced by the Swiss Meteorological Service (MeteoSchweiz) shows this development on a national scale since 1864, with an increasing gradation of red from 0° to 2.5°C. The entire recent period of the last seven years clearly shows global warming in a settled and sustainable manner, in the red zone.

The red zones linked to the evolution of the Covid are topical. But we must not lose sight of the red zones of global warming, undoubtedly even more durable, which are affecting our regions, in Switzerland, France and elsewhere in the world. In recent days, the smoke from forest fires in California has been tinting the bay and the city of San Francisco orange-red in broad daylight. "While many aspects of our lives have been turned upside down in 2020, climate change has continued unabated," said the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report published by the United Nations last Wednesday. Although there have been reductions in carbon dioxide emissions in 2020, the incidence is very low in the atmosphere, and CO2 concentrations "have never been so high in 3 million years", the WMO adds. 

Because of the inertia of the climate, it is possible that the actions we take today may not have lasting effects in stabilising climate increases until 2030 at the earliest. For the time being, we perceive the effects of such warming, in all seasons of our lives in Anjou and elsewhere, as "affecting the entire biosphere, from mountain tops to the depths of the ocean, leading to an acceleration of sea level rise, with cascading effects for ecosystems and human safety" according to the rapporteurs of the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which participated in the report. The UN calls for "urgent and concerted action by all countries and all sectors". Its director general, Antonio Guterres, urges states to "act together in the face of the climate threat, which is far more serious than the pandemic itself". The UN also calls for a change in our consumption patterns, combined with new technological solutions for carbon capture and storage (Les Echos, 10 Sept. 2020). There is still time to act.


Text by François Prouteau