Where We Stand
ELLE Singapore|April_Swap
Wildfires, hurricanes, floods and heat waves. These past few years have seen a dramatic increase in natural disasters, and with the grim predictions for the future, it’s impossible to doubt the effects of global warming. Elle delves into the state of the planet and the crucial role women play in its outcome. From the indelible women leading climate action across the globe to the inspiring ideas already in motion, now is the time to take a stand for our planet
Margaret Wappler

The images of climate change seem straight out of a Hollywood science fiction movie: Raging wildfires that eat a football field per second. Floods that wipe away whole towns. Skies so heavy with air pollution that children wear masks to step outside.

Except that it’s all true — and some of the images come directly from my own life. Last October, when the Tick Fire erupted in Los Angeles, I watched as ash drifted past my back deck. The air smelled like burning chaparral tinged with something more chemical – charred plastic, from our homes, cars, and whatever else the Tick Fire had engulfed. My son’s preschool, which takes place outdoors, was cancelled due to poor air quality, not for the first time. And it likely won’t be the last: California experienced the deadliest and most destructive wildfires in its history in 2017 and 2018, and it’s getting worse. Analysing environmental data from the last 30 years, scientists predict that over the next two decades, as many as 11 U.S. states are predicted to see the average annual area burned increase by 500 percent.

How did we get here? Via progress, ironically. For every marvel industrialised life has given us — the ability to mass-produce clothing; to fly from Australia to India in a day; to get shampoo mailed to our house in 24 hours — it has exacted a cruel price. The world is now one degree warmer than it was pre-industrialisation. One degree may sound incremental, but the results are potentially catastrophic. Sea levels are rising, the temperature and acidity of the oceans is increasing, and our ability to grow life-sustaining crops such as wheat, rice and corn is compromised. Globally, we are on track to raise the temperature at least two more degrees by the end of this century, and that’s only the best-case scenario if we follow the 2015 Paris Agreement to keep the rise “well below 2°C” while “pursuing efforts to limit [it] to 1.5°C.”

If those predictions seem abstract, extreme weather events — floods, fires and heat waves, to name but a few — are devastatingly concrete, and here right now. According to UK scientists, wildfires around the world are on the rise due to carbon emissions and other planet-warming effects. Fires are now burning hotter, and coming at a faster rate. Australia’s bushfires, which have burned 10 million hectares and counting at the time of this writing, are a particularly heartbreaking example. Siberia, Southern Europe, Canada, and Scandinavia are also battling this new breed of mega-fire.

Other regions battle the opposite problem. Tropical cyclones, hurricanes, floods and other dramatic storms are on the uptick. According to a 2018 study, flood risk in Europe is increasing and a greater swath of people will be effected. Roughly estimated, 500,000 to 1 million European people are expected to be affected by flooding in the future climate. Flood-prone Asia may be hit the hardest, economically speaking, and they have already suffered: Vietnam, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Thailand are among 10 countries in the world most affected by climate change in the past 20 years, according to the environmental group Germanwatch.

As ever, less developed countries are generally more affected by climate change than industrialised countries. Heat waves gripped developed countries like Japan and Germany last summer, but they’re expected to become a critical problem in Africa. According to the International Panel on Climate Change, South Africa’s temperatures are rising at twice the global average. Research shows that only a few cities in Africa are dealing with extreme heat currently, but this is set to increase dramatically, particularly for southern, western and northern Africa. By 2050, many of the most at risk cities with large urban populations in poverty will be in West Africa, as well as Sudan and Egypt.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM ELLE SINGAPOREView All

The Eye Of The Tiger

Japanese athletic brand Onitsuka Tiger has branched out beyond its cult sneakers to become a legitimate street fashion brand. We speak to its creative director, Andrea Pompilio to find out more

3 mins read
ELLE Singapore
January 2022

Major Beauty Trends Of 2022

Newby hands, the global beauty director at Net-A-Porter, happens to also be the woman tailoring the beauty section to every consumer’s needs and wants. She discusses the growth behind the luxury site’s beauty department, and identifies 2022’s major beauty trends

6 mins read
ELLE Singapore
January 2022

Meet BIBI - Unabashed, Brazen And Bold

Unabashed, brazen and bold, South Korean R&B and pop singer songwriter BIBI is all for baring her feelings — even the nasty, uneasy ones — to the world

6 mins read
ELLE Singapore
January 2022

The Art Of Saying No, In Love, Life, And Limbo

What happens when you lack the ability to SAY NO? Whether because of Fear, Guilt Or Expectation, many of us struggle with establishing clear boundaries. BUT doing so is actually a crucial part of self-care

6 mins read
ELLE Singapore
January 2022

SECOND LOOK

OMEGA’S SEAMASTER AQUA TERRA is ELEVATED WITH a NEW SMALL SECONDS SUBDIAL that IS ELEGANT AND SPORTY at THE SAME TIME

1 min read
ELLE Singapore
January 2022

Legend and Legacy

SO CONTEMPORARY IN STYLE, IT IS HARD TO IMAGINE THAT SOME OF THESE MASTERPIECES WERE BROUGHT TO LIFE OVER A CENTURY AGO. THE JUSTE UN CLOU BRACELET CELEBRATES 50 YEARS, WHILE THE OTHER SEVEN CREATIONS DESIGNED BY CARTIER ARE NOW CONSIDERED ICONS IN THE WORLD OF FRENCH JEWELLERY AND WATCHMAKING

2 mins read
ELLE Singapore
January 2022

In Plain Sight

ACCORDING TO TAG HEUER, THIS WATCH IS THE SHARPEST, MOST LEGIBLE WAY OF TELLING TIME. MEET THE NEWLY UPDATED CARRERA THREE HANDS

3 mins read
ELLE Singapore
January 2022

FINE FELINE

IT'S not UNUSUAL FOR JEWELLERY MAISONS to HAVE an EMBLEMATIC CREATURE to REPRESENT THEIR SPIRIT and HERITAGE, BUT IT'S not EVERY DAY THAT a HISTORIC JEWELLER HAS A RESIDENT FELINE as A PET, AND a CONTINUED SOURCE of INSPIRATION

2 mins read
ELLE Singapore
January 2022

BLOOMING BEAUTY

AFTER DECADES of INTENSIVE RESEARCH on THE HOUSE’S EMBLEMATIC FLOWER, THE CAMELLIA, a NEW PILLAR of ANTI-AGEING BEAUTY ARRIVES at CHANEL — IN THE FORM of N° 1 DE CHANEL

2 mins read
ELLE Singapore
January 2022

Vacheron Constantin's Egérie A Timepiece That Has Been Designed With Women In Mind

Vacheron Constantin’s Egérie is not just another diamond -studded women’s watch, it’s a timepiece that has been designed with women in mind — from the first concept to the finished product

2 mins read
ELLE Singapore
December 2021
RELATED STORIES

Smoke Eaters On The Front Lines

The new era of wildland firefighting is a war with no end in sight.

10+ mins read
Backpacker
July - August 2021

Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Build Here

Wildfires are close to torching the insurance industry in California

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
November 16, 2020

California to Examine Effect of Blackouts on Communication

When the nation’s largest electric utility preemptively shut off power last fall to prevent wildfires in California, customers lost more than just their lights — some lost their phones, too.

2 mins read
Techlife News
January 11, 2020

How Science Is Fighting Wilder Wildfires Than Ever Before

In the midst of a nightmarish wildfire season, scientists are often the only barrier between life and death.

10+ mins read
Popular Science
November 2015

Can The World's Tallest Trees Survive?

Some 30 million people a year make a pilgrimage to northern California to see the towering coastal redwoods. But can the remaining stands of these remarkable trees survive the triple scourge of climate change, drought and wildfires?

8 mins read
BBC Wildlife
October 2021

21st Century The Age of Deforestation?

The year 2019 witnessed depletion of forests to an unprecedented extent. Wildfires, deforestation, illegal logging, mining and other such factors, for which man is responsible, reduced the green cover. World Wide Fund came up with a list to forewarn the world about the regions that are already seeing extreme forest loss and could spiral out of control by 2030 if not addressed at the earliest. On this International Day of Forests, celebrated on March 21, Namrata Gulati Sapra sheds light on these forests that are bearing the brunt of selfish human deeds, demanding urgent attention.

6 mins read
TerraGreen
March 2020