Teresio Teixeira/AFP/Getty Images
A Rocinha resident carries water collected from a natural spring during a heatwave in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on November 17, 2023.
Earth’s temperature briefly rose above a critical threshold that scientists have been warning about for decades The effects are catastrophic and irreversible On the planet and its ecosystems, data shared by a leading climate scientist shows.
For the first time, the average global temperature on Friday last week was 2 degrees Celsius hotter than pre-industrial levels. According to preliminary data shared on X by Samantha Burgess, deputy director of the Europe-based Copernicus Climate Change Service.
This threshold has only been crossed temporarily, and it does not mean that the world is in a permanent state of warming above 2 degrees Celsius, but it is an indication that a planet is getting steadily hotter, and is moving towards a long-term situation where the climate crisis will have an impact and will be difficult – and in some cases… Impossible – reverse it.
“Our best estimate is that this was the first day on which global temperature was more than 2°C above 1850-1900 (or pre-industrial) levels, at 2.06°C,” she wrote.
Global temperatures on Friday averaged 1.17 degrees above 1991-2020 levels, making it the warmest November 17 on record, Burgess said in her post. But compared to pre-industrial times, before humans began burning fossil fuels on a large scale and changing Earth’s natural climate, the temperature was 2.06 degrees warmer.
Friday’s two-degree breakthrough came two weeks before the start of the United Nations COP28 climate conference in Dubai, where countries will assess their progress towards the Paris climate agreement’s pledge to limit global warming to two degrees above pre-industrial levels, with an ambition limited to 1.5 degrees.
One day above 2 degrees “doesn’t mean the Paris Agreement has been violated, but it highlights how close we are to those internationally agreed limits,” Burgess told CNN. We can expect to see a 1.5 degree increase in temperatures. And two degrees in the coming months and years.”
The Copernicus data are preliminary and will require weeks to be confirmed by real-world observations.
The world is already watching Track to break through 1.5 degrees of warming On a long-term basis in the next few years, a threshold beyond which scientists say humans and ecosystems will have difficulty adapting.
A UN report published on Monday showed that even if countries follow through on their current pledges to cut emissions, the world will reach between 2.5 and 2.9 degrees of warming sometime this century.
But 1.5 degrees is not the edge of a cliff for Earth: every fraction of a degree warmer above that, the worse the impacts. A 2°C rise in temperatures puts a much larger population at risk of deadly extreme weather and increases the likelihood that the planet will reach irreversible tipping points, such as the collapse of polar ice sheets and the mass death of coral reefs.
Richard Allan, professor of climate science at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, described the breakthrough as a “canary in a coal mine” that “underscores the urgent need to address greenhouse gas emissions.”
But he added, “It is fully expected that temperatures on individual days will exceed 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels before the actual target of 2 degrees Celsius is breached over many years.”
The data comes after Warmest 12 months on recordafter a year of extreme weather events, exacerbated by the climate crisis, including Fires in Hawaii, Floods in North Africa And Storms In the Mediterranean, all of which claimed the lives of people.
Scientists are increasingly expressing concern that temperature data is exceeding their expectations.
A series of reports examining the health of Earth’s climate and human actions to combat it in recent weeks show that the planet is headed toward a dangerous level of warming, and Don’t do enough To mitigate or adapt to its effects.
A UN report last week concluded that, according to countries’ climate plans, pollution will warm the planet in 2030. It will still be 9% higher than in 2010. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world needs to cut emissions by 45% by the end of this decade compared to 2010 to have any hope of reducing emissions. Earth’s temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius Higher than pre-industrial levels. An increase of 9% means that the target is unattainable.
Another UN report also found that the world is planning to exceed the limit on fossil fuel production that would curb global warming. By 2030, countries plan to produce more than twice the maximum amount of fossil fuels that would limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.
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