This year will “almost certainly” be the hottest year in recorded history, the World Meteorological Organization announced Thursday at the United Nations COP28 climate summit in Dubai, where delegates from nearly 200 countries, including several heads of state and government, gathered. .
The organization said the temperature in 2023 was about 1.4 degrees Celsius, or about 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit, higher than the average global temperature in the pre-industrial period from 1850 to 1990. The past nine years were the warmest in 174 years. From recorded scientific observations, the previous nine years were the warmest in the 174 years of recorded scientific observations. Record numbers were set in 2020 and 2016. This comes on top of record greenhouse gas concentrations, sea levels and methane concentrations.
“It’s a deafening cacophony of broken records,” said Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, in Dubai.
Although year-end data is yet to come, the organization has released a draft of its report Global climate report Early to inform talks in Dubai, where diplomats and leaders are trying to negotiate plans to accelerate the global transition away from fossil fuels that are dangerously warming the Earth.
Mr Taalas said he hoped the report would signal to negotiators in Dubai the urgent need to reach an ambitious agreement to mitigate climate change. “We are not moving at all in the right direction,” he later said in an interview. “We are going in the wrong direction”
The initial results were in line with what scientists expected, with average global temperatures breaking records month after month in 2023.
By emphasizing the changes the planet is already going through, the scientific community wants to make sure leaders at COP28 understand the urgency of climate change and the weight of their decisions, said Brenda Ekworzel, director of climate science at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Dr. Ekurzel did not participate in the WMO report, but he contributed to a similar report in the United States.
“Decision-makers in international negotiations are in the driving seat regarding future climate change,” she said.
Summer in the Northern Hemisphere was disastrously hot for much of the world’s population, and July was the hottest month on record on Earth. Scientists found that extreme temperatures in North America and Europe would have been “almost impossible” without the impact of climate change caused by burning fossil fuels.
The true cost in lives and economic losses will not be clear for some time. But research examining recent years reveals the heavy price that global warming in general is bearing. It is estimated that more than 61,000 people will die in Europe alone due to heat waves in 2022. In Africa, climate change has led to more hunger, malaria, dengue fever and floods, Mr. Taalas said.
More intense and concentrated rainfall is one effect of climate change. In September, a powerful storm brought heavy rains to the Mediterranean, rupturing two dams in Libya and killing thousands in the city of Derna. Earlier this year, long-lasting Tropical Cyclone Freddie struck South Africa, forming in early February and making landfall in Mozambique and Malawi in mid-March. The storm resulted in the deaths of more than 600 people and the displacement of more than 600,000 in Malawi.
Another severe storm, Tropical Cyclone Mocha, struck Southeast Asia in May. The cyclone displaced more than a million people, including many Rohingya refugees who were already displaced from Myanmar and were living in the world’s largest refugee camp, Cox’s Bazar, in Bangladesh.
In less severe conditions, high temperatures prevent people from working as long hours as they normally would. One study estimated that in 2021, the U.S. agriculture, construction, manufacturing, and service sectors lost more than 2.5 billion hours of work due to heat exposure. A separate assessment found that productivity losses caused by extreme heat in 2020 cost the US economy about $100 billion.
These numbers do not take into account what we have lost in other climate-related disasters. This year’s record temperatures contributed to a series of wildfires around the world, especially in Canada, where more than 45 million acres burned and hundreds of thousands evacuated their homes in the country’s worst recorded fire to date. Smoke from the long-running fires affected millions more in distant cities.
Nature has also paid a price, especially in the oceans, which have absorbed 90% of global warming so far. Sea surface temperatures have reached new levels this year, especially in the Atlantic Ocean. In July, a buoy off the coast of Florida recorded a temperature of 101 degrees Fahrenheit. Coral reefs in the area have suffered massive bleaching.
“The rise in global temperatures to record levels should send chills down the spine of world leaders,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said on Thursday, in a video message to the conference held in Dubai. “Today’s report shows we are in deep trouble. Leaders must get us out of it, starting with the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28).
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