According to a new UN assessment, the past eight years have been the eight warmest on record, showing the world is really facing a climate disaster. It stated that the 1.5C goal for global warming is now "just within grasp."
The UN's World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released a paper outlining how the atmosphere's record-high concentration of greenhouse gases is causing sea levels and glacier melt to reach new heights and amplifying extreme weather from Pakistan to Puerto Rico.
The sobering study was released on the first day of the UN's Cop27 climate meeting in Egypt, and at the same time, the UN secretary-general issued a dire warning: "Our planet is on course to reach tipping points that would make climate calamity irreversible."
According to the WMO, the average global temperature in 2022 will be 1.15C warmer than it was before the industrial revolution (1850–1900), making every year since 2016 one of the warmest ever recorded.
The natural La Nia climate phenomena have actually kept global temperatures lower than they would have been during the past two years. In addition to global warming, future temperature spikes will be caused by the unavoidable return of El Nio conditions.
The WMO report said:
- As emissions continue, the amounts of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere are at historic highs. Methane, a strong greenhouse gas, increased at its greatest annual rate ever.
- The oceans are hotter than ever, and the sea level is rising twice as quickly as it was thirty years ago.
- In 2022, the Alps' glacier melting records were broken, with an average height loss of 13 feet (4 meters).
- For the first time, rain rather than snow was noted on the 3,200 m-high peaks of the Greenland ice sheet.
- Nearly 1 million kilometers squared less than the long-term average, the Antarctic sea ice area reached its lowest level ever.
WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas stated, "The more warming, the bigger the repercussions." "The lower 1.5C [goal] of the Paris Agreement is only barely within reach because CO2 levels in the atmosphere are currently so high. For many glaciers, it's already too late, and millions of people who live along coastlines and in low-lying areas are seriously and seriously threatened by sea level rise.
Prior to Cop27, UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated: "Emissions are continuing to increase at unprecedented levels. That implies our planet is headed toward tipping points that will unleash irrevocable climate devastation. From tipping points to turning points for hope, we must transition.
According to a number of recent analyses, there is "no credible road to 1.5C in place" and with the current level of activity, there will be no decrease in emissions and a catastrophic 2.5C rise in global temperature.
Global warming is causing extreme weather to become more severe and frequent. The WMO study emphasized the longest drought in forty years in east Africa, where rainfall has been below average for four straight seasons. A food crisis is currently affecting roughly 19 million people.
The WMO analysis also reported:
- Flooding in Pakistan has caused at least 1,700 fatalities and 7.9 million displaced people.
- a string of cyclones that tore into southern Africa, with Madagascar taking the brunt of the heavy rain.
- Extreme heatwaves and droughts in the northern hemisphere, including the longest heatwave on record in China, the first time 40°C was reached in the UK, and critically low river levels in Europe, including the Rhine, Loire, and Danube.
- Huge destruction and fatalities were caused by Hurricane Ian in Florida and Cuba.
Even well-prepared communities this year have been devastated by extremes, according to Prof. Taalas. "All too frequently, those least responsible for climate change suffer most," said Taalas.
The messages in this report could not be any bleaker, according to Prof. Mike Meredith of the British Antarctic Survey. Records are breaking all around the world as various components of the climate system start to fail. The effects on people, cultures, and economies are profound, making the loss of ice all the more worrisome. I'm not sure what will make the world leaders at Cop27 more focused if this doesn't.