Industrial Impact on Climate and Environment


 Climate & Environment

Previously reported – January 2022
2021 Was Earth’s Fifth-Hottest Year, Scientists Say

The finding, by European researchers, fits a clear warming trend: The seven hottest years on record have been the past seven.
Last year was Earth’s fifth hottest on record, European scientists announced on Monday. But the fact that the worldwide average temperature didn’t beat the record is hardly reason to stop worrying about global warming’s grip on the planet, they said. Not when both the United States and Europe had their warmest summers on the books. Not when higher temperatures around the Arctic caused it to rain for the first time at the Greenland ice sheet’s normally frigid summit. And certainly not when the seven hottest years ever recorded were, by a clear margin, the past seven. The events of 2021 “are a stark reminder of the need to change our ways, take decisive and effective steps toward a sustainable society and work toward reducing net carbon emissions,” said Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, the European Union program that conducted the analysis made public on Monday. The mean temperature globally last year was 1.1 to 1.2 degrees Celsius (2 to 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than it was before industrialization led humans to begin pumping large quantities of carbon dioxide into the air. The year was fifth warmest by a slight margin over 2015 and 2018, by Copernicus’s ranking. The hottest years on record are 2016 and 2020, in a virtual tie. “If you look at all the last seven years, they’re not super close, but they’re quite close together,” said Freja Vamborg, a senior climate scientist at Copernicus. “And they stand well off from the ones that came before that.” Copernicus’s temperature records start in 1950, but in its analyses, the group combines these with other records that go back about another century. The steady warming corresponds with the scientific consensus that increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are causing long-lasting changes in the global climate. Copernicus said its preliminary analysis of satellite measurements had found that concentrations of heat-trapping gases continued to rise last year, helped by 1,850 megatons of carbon emissions from wildfires worldwide. The rate of increase in carbon dioxide levels appears to have been down somewhat from a few years earlier, the Copernicus analysis found. However, concentrations of methane, the second-most prevalent greenhouse gas, grew at their fastest pace in two decades, and Copernicus scientists said they were still trying to understand why. One big reason for 2021’s lower mean temperature was the presence during the early part of the year of La Niña conditions, a recurring climate pattern characterized by lower surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. (La Niña has returned in recent months, which could presage a drier winter in the Southern United States but wetter conditions in the Pacific Northwest.) Those effects were offset in the 2021 average, however, by higher temperatures in many parts of the world between June and October, Copernicus said. “When we think about climate change, it’s not just a single progression, year after year after year being the warmest,” said Robert Rohde, the lead scientist at Berkeley Earth, an independent environmental research group. “The preponderance of evidence — which comes from looking at ocean temperatures, land temperatures, upper atmospheric temperatures, glaciers melting, sea ice changes — are telling us a coherent story about changes in the earth system which points to warming overall,” Dr. Rohde said. “Slight variations up or down, a year or two at a time, don’t change that picture.” Berkeley Earth is expected to issue its own analysis of 2021 temperatures this month, as are two U.S. government agencies: NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Unlike those groups, Copernicus uses a method called re-analysis, which produces a portrait of global weather conditions using a computer model that fills in the gaps between temperature measurements. Even so, the different groups’ conclusions usually line up quite closely. As ever, higher average temperatures were not observed uniformly across the planet last year. Most of Australia and parts of Antarctica experienced below-normal temperatures in 2021, as did areas in western Siberia. Europe’s summer last year was the warmest on record, though 2010 and 2018 were not far behind, according to Copernicus. Severe rainfall and flooding caused destruction and death in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Heat and dryness set the stage for wildfires that ravaged Greece and other places around the Mediterranean. The western side of North America experienced off-the-charts heat, drought, and wildfires last summer. Canada’s maximum temperature record was broken in June when the mercury in a small town in British Columbia hit 121.3 degrees Fahrenheit, or 49.6 Celsius. Scientists have concluded that the Pacific Coast heat wave would have been practically impossible in a world without human-induced warming. The question is whether the event fits into the present meteorological understanding, even if it is without precedent, or is a sign that the climate is changing in ways that scientists do not fully grasp. “From where I sit right now, I would tend to think that this was probably still a very rare event, even in the modern climate,” Dr. Rohde said. “But there’s a degree of ‘wait and see’ involved.” If the planet does not experience heat events of similar intensity in the coming decades, scientists are likely to look back and regard 2021 as an extreme fluke, he said. “If we do, it’s telling us that something is changed in a more fundamental way.”
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Previously reported – February 2022
UN climate report urges world to adapt now, or suffer later


    • U.C. climate report says drastic action needed
    • ‘Delay means death’ says U.N. secretary general Guterres
    • Change impacting world faster than anticipated – report
    • Breaching 1.5C threshold will cause irreparable damage
    • ‘Brief and rapidly closing window’ for action

Climate change is upon us, and humanity is far from ready, the United Nations climate panel warned in a major report on Monday. Noting that nearly half the world’s population was already vulnerable to increasingly dangerous climate impacts, the report calls for drastic action on a huge scale: A third to a half of the planet needs to be conserved and protected to ensure future food and freshwater supplies. Coastal cities need plans to keep people safe from storms and rising seas. And more. read more

“Adaptation saves lives,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said with the report’s release. “As climate impacts worsen – and they will – scaling up investments will be essential for survival… Delay means death.”

The report is the latest in a series by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) detailing the latest global consensus on climate science. This report, however, focuses on how nature and societies are being affected and what they can do to adapt. read more

On nearly all counts, the report makes clear that climate change is impacting the world far faster than scientists had anticipated. Meanwhile, countries have failed to rein in planet-warming carbon emissions, which continue to rise. “Unchecked carbon pollution is forcing the world’s most vulnerable on a frog march to destruction,” Guterres said in a video address Monday. “The facts are undeniable. This abdication of leadership is criminal.”

While governments need to drastically curb their emissions to prevent runaway global warming, they can also work to limit suffering by adapting to the conditions of a warmer world, the report says. That will take a lot of money – to finance new technologies and institutional support. Cities can invest in cooling areas to help people through heatwaves. Coastal communities may need new infrastructure or to relocate altogether. “In terms of transformational adaptation, we can plan it and implement it now, or it’ll be thrust upon us by climate change,” said Kristina Dahl, a climate expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists, who was not involved in writing the report. But in some cases, the report acknowledges, the costs of adapting will be too high. The report’s release three months after global leaders met at a climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, highlighted the urgency of efforts to contain global warming to within 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) of pre-industrial temperatures. Breaching that threshold will deliver irreversible damage to the planet, it says. And every increment of warming will cause more pain. read more

“Adaptation is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. There are limits to adaptation,” said Maarten van Aalst, director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre and a report co-author. “We should reduce greenhouse gas emissions because if we don’t, it’s going to get really bad.” Limiting global warming to close to 1.5C may not prevent losses to nature, societies, or economies, but will substantially reduce them, the report says. Having already warmed 1.1C, the planet is expected to hit the 1.5C threshold within two decades.

Societies will fail to adjust well to a warming world if they aren’t socially inclusive in tackling the task, the report warns. Solutions need to consider social justice and include Indigenous populations, minorities, and the poor, it says. “It’s the poor and most marginalized who are most vulnerable,” said Timon McPhearson, an urban ecologist at The New School in New York and one of the report’s 270 authors. That includes people living in developing countries in Africa, South Asia, and small island nations, as well as marginalized communities in wealthy nations such as the United States. Without inclusive economic development in Africa, for example, climate change is expected to push 40 million more people into extreme poverty by 2030. Providing social welfare or jobs that also protect the environment – for example uprooting invasive trees that deplete water supplies – can go a long way towards helping vulnerable populations, said report co-author Christopher Trisos, a climate risk researcher at the University of Cape Town. read more

But time is running out to make the society-wide transformations needed, the authors warn. The decisions society makes in the next decade will set the climate path to come. “There is a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a livable future on the planet,” said Hans-Otto Portner, co-chair of the IPCC working group that generated the report. “We need to live up to this challenge.”
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Previously reported – February 2022
5 takeaways from the latest United Nations climate change report
Monday’s IPCC report is a warning letter to the world. Here’s what you need to know from the more than 3,500-page document.
The latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a warning letter to a world on the brink. A sweeping survey of the most advanced climate science on the planet, it recounts the effects rising temperatures are already having and projects the catastrophes that loom if humans fail to make swift and significant cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.

The more than 3,500-page document is rife with devastating details about the toll of rising sea levels, scorching heat and escalating natural disasters. Here are five key points from the report about what the world stands to lose and all that can still be salvaged.

1) A certain amount of suffering is inevitable, though adaptation can help

2) Every incremental increase in temperature will lead to dramatically more disease, death, and frequent, costly disasters

3) Climate change is battering the places and populations least able to adapt, and that is all but certain to continue

4) Global warming is wreaking havoc on plants and wildlife

5) For many locations on Earth, the capacity for adaptation is already significantly limited, even as it becomes more critical

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World must act now to slow global warming: report
Global temperatures will continue to rise unless the world takes action, stresses a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC. Released Monday, “Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” is the contribution of Working Group II to the Sixth Assessment Report of the IPCC. IPCC is the United Nations body that looks at climate change science. IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee said in a statement that the report recognizes the interdependence of climate, biodiversity and people and integrates natural, social, and economic sciences more strongly than earlier IPCC assessments. The report emphasizes the urgency of immediate and more ambitious action to address climate risks. “Half measures are no longer an option.” Hoesung Lee explained during a press conference Monday that Working Group I’s report released last August shows that human activities have warmed the climate at a rate not seen in at least the past 2,000 years. “We are on course to reaching global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius within the next two decades. And temperature will continue to increase unless the world takes much bolder action,” Hoesung Lee said. “The report is a dire warning about the consequences of inaction. It shows that climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our well-being and a healthy planet. It also shows that our actions today will shape how people adapt to climate change and how nature responds to increasing climate risks.” Human-induced climate change impacts noted throughout the report include increases in temperature, rainfall, and extreme weather, lengthening wildfire season, severe water shortages due to climate change and extreme events such as flooding and droughts, altered food webs and interruption of the supply chain. The report analyzes the effects of climate change by looking at ecosystems, biodiversity, and human communities at global and regional levels. “It also reviews vulnerabilities and the capacities and limits of the natural world and human societies to adapt to climate change,” according to IPCC. “The focus of our new report is on solutions. It highlights the importance of fundamental changes in society at the same time as conserving, restoring and safeguarding nature in order to meet the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals,” IPCC states. “Successful adaptation requires urgent, more ambitious and accelerated action and, at the same time, rapid and deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. The quicker and further emissions fall, the more scope there is for people and nature to adapt.” A section in the report details risks and options for action for cities and settlements. An atlas to present data and findings on observed and projected climate change impacts and risks is also new in this report. IPCC notes in the report that climate change interacts with global trends such as unsustainable use of natural resources, growing urbanization, social inequalities, losses and damages from extreme events and a pandemic, jeopardizing future development. “Our assessment clearly shows that tackling all these different challenges involves everyone – governments, the private sector, civil society – working together to prioritize risk reduction, as well as equity and justice, in decision-making and investment,” said IPCC Working Group II Co-Chair Debra Roberts. This report also reviews regional information to help areas with Climate Resilient Development, a solutions framework that combines strategies to adapt to climate change with actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to support sustainable development, according to IPCC. A fact sheet on North America states that “Even if global warming is limited to 1.5°C, human life, safety, and livelihoods across North America, especially in coastal areas will be placed at risk from sea level rise (SLR), severe storms, and hurricanes (very high confidence).” Daniel Bresette, executive director of the Environmental and Energy Study Institute said in a statement that the report released Monday is clear in its findings. “Climate change presents a grave threat to the health and wellbeing of everything on this planet and will require accelerated action to avoid the loss of life, biodiversity, and infrastructure.” President Kathleen Rogers said in a statement that the latest IPCC report comes as no surprise. “While the fossil fuel economy and technologies of centuries past have created in many cases irreversible damage, new innovations, heightened regulations, and increased civic actions can bring about a sustainable future,” Rogers said. “Solving the climate crisis requires individuals, businesses, and governments to act boldly, innovate broadly, and implement equitably.”
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5 Takeaways From the U.N. Report on Limiting Global Warming
Current pledges to cut emissions, even if nations follow through on them, won’t stop temperatures from rising to risky new levels.
Nations are not doing nearly enough to prevent global warming from increasing to dangerous levels within the lifetimes of most people on Earth today, according to a new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of researchers convened by the United Nations. Limiting the devastation won’t be easy, but it also isn’t impossible if countries act now, the report says. The panel produces a comprehensive overview of climate science once every six to eight years. It splits its findings into three reports. The first, on what’s driving global warming, came out last August. The second, on climate change’s effects on our world and our ability to adapt to them, was released in February. This is No. 3, on how we can cut emissions and limit further warming.

Without swift action, we’re headed for trouble.
The report makes it clear: Nations’ current pledges to curb greenhouse-gas emissions most likely will not stop global warming from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, within the next few decades. And that’s assuming countries follow through. If they don’t, even more warming is in store. That target — to prevent the average global temperature from increasing by 1.5 degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels — is one many world governments have agreed to pursue. It sounds modest. But that number represents a host of sweeping changes that occur as greenhouse gases trap more heat on the planet’s surface, including deadlier storms, more intense heat waves, rising seas and extra strain on crops. Earth has already warmed about 1.1 degrees Celsius on average since the 19th century.

Emissions are tied to economic growth and income.
So far, the world isn’t becoming more energy-efficient quickly enough to balance out continued growth in global economic activity, the report says. Carbon dioxide emissions from factories, cities, buildings, farms and vehicles increased in the 2010s, outweighing the benefits from power plants’ switching to natural gas from coal and using more renewable sources such as wind and solar. On the whole, it is the richest people and wealthiest nations that are heating up the planet. Worldwide, the richest 10 percent of households are responsible for between a third to nearly half of all greenhouse gas emissions, according to the report. The poorest 50 percent of households contribute around 15 percent of emissions.

Clean energy has become more affordable.
The prices of solar and wind energy, and electric vehicle batteries, have dropped significantly since 2010, the report finds. The result is that it may now be “more expensive” in some cases to maintain highly polluting energy systems than to switch to clean sources, the report says. In 2020, solar and wind provided close to 10 percent of the world’s electricity. Average worldwide emissions grew much more slowly in the 2010s than they did in the 2000s, partly because of greater use of green energy. It wasn’t obvious to scientists that this would happen so swiftly. In a 2011 report on renewables, the same panel noted that technological advances would probably make green energy cheaper, though it said it was hard to predict how much.

Still, altering the climate path won’t be easy or cheap.
The world needs to invest three to six times what it’s currently spending on mitigating climate change if it wants to limit global warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius, the report says. Money is particularly short in poorer countries, which need trillions of dollars of investment each year this decade. As nations drop fossil fuels, some economic disruption is inevitable, the report notes. Resources will be left in the ground unburned; mines and power plants will become financially unviable. The economic impact could be in the trillions of dollars, the report says. Even so, simply keeping planned and existing fossil-fuel infrastructure up and running will pump enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to make it impossible to keep warming below 1.5 degrees, the report says.

There are other steps that could help and wouldn’t break the bank.
The report looks at a host of other changes to societies that could reduce emissions, including more energy-efficient buildings, more recycling and more white-collar work going remote and virtual. These changes do not have to be economy-dampening chores, the report emphasizes. Some, like better public transit and more walkable urban areas, have benefits for air pollution and overall well-being, said Joyashree Roy, an economist at the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok who contributed to the report. “People are demanding more healthy cities and greener cities,” she said. In all, steps that would cost less than $100 per ton of carbon dioxide saved could lower global emissions to about half the 2019 level by 2030, the report says. Other steps remain pricier, such as capturing more of the carbon dioxide from the gases that pour from smokestacks at power plants, the report says. The world also needs to remove carbon dioxide that is already in the atmosphere. Planting more trees is pretty much the only way this is being done at large scale right now, the report says. Other methods, like using chemicals to extract atmospheric carbon or adding nutrients to the oceans to stimulate photosynthesis in tiny marine plants, are still in early development. “We cannot ignore how much technology can help,” said Joni Jupesta, an author of the report with the Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth in Kyoto, Japan. “Not every country has a lot of natural resources.”
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Previously reported – January 2023
The Last 8 Years Were the Hottest on Record
The world remained firmly in warming’s grip last year, with extreme summer temperatures in Europe, China and elsewhere contributing to 2022 being the fifth-hottest year on record, European climate researchers said on Tuesday. The eight warmest years on record have now occurred since 2014, the scientists, from the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, reported, and 2016 remains the hottest year ever. Overall, the world is now 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.1 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter than it was in the second half of the 19th century, when emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels became widespread. Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus service, said the underlying warming trend since the pre-industrial age made 2022’s ranking in the top five “neither unexpected nor unsurprising.” “The rare event now would be to see a really cold year,” he said. Last year was among the warmest despite the persistence of La Niña for the third consecutive year. La Niña is a climate pattern marked by colder-than-normal sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean that tend to suppress global temperatures. “We are continuing the long-term warming trend of the planet,” said Zeke Hausfather, a researcher at Berkeley Earth, an independent organization that analyzes environmental data. “If you draw a straight line through temperatures since 1970, 2022 lands almost exactly on where you’d expect temperatures to be.” Berkeley Earth will issue its own analysis of 2022 data later this week, as will NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Copernicus scientists said Europe had its hottest summer ever in 2022, with several heat waves rolling across the continent that set temperature records in many cities. Separate research has shown that heat waves in Europe are increasing in frequency and intensity at a faster rate than almost anywhere else, fueled by warming but also, most likely, by shifts in atmospheric and oceanic circulation. The effects of such a warm year were felt elsewhere around the world as well. Eastern and Central China, Pakistan and India all experienced lengthy and extreme heat waves in 2022, and monsoon floods in Pakistan ravaged much of the country. The heat and accompanying dryness also contributed to extensive wildfires in the Western United States.
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The last eight years have been the warmest on record, researchers say
Concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane have continued to rise despite an urgent need to reduce them
Last year was the fifth hottest ever recorded on the planet, the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service announced Tuesday. It was part of an unabated broader warming trend as humans continue to pump massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Extreme heat waves in Europe, Asia and the United States — which stemmed in part from more than a century of burning fossil fuels — helped drive 2022’s unusual warmth, researchers found. Europe sweltered through its hottest summer on record and its second-hottest year overall, researchers said. Pakistan experienced catastrophic flooding as a result of extreme rainfall. In February, Antarctic Sea ice reached its lowest minimum in 44 years of satellite records. The year “2022 was yet another … of climate extremes across Europe and globally. These events highlight that we are already experiencing the devastating consequences of our warming world,” Samantha Burgess, deputy director of Copernicus, said in a statement announcing the annual findings. She said data from 2022 provides “clear evidence that avoiding the worst consequences will require society to both urgently reduce carbon emissions and swiftly adapt to a changing climate.” The records show that the last eight years have been the hottest recorded in human history. Despite the urgency to halt such warming, the world’s output of carbon dioxide and other planet-warming emissions continues to rise. U.S. greenhouse gas emissions ticked up by 1.3 percent in 2022 over the previous year, according to an analysis released Tuesday by the Rhodium Group, an independent research firm. President Biden has pledged to cut U.S. emissions 50 to 52 percent by the end of the decade compared with 2005 levels, and while Congress recently passed far-reaching legislation to fund a shift toward cleaner energy, the nation is not yet on a trajectory to meet those lofty goals. Neither is the world. A U.N. report last fall found that despite high-profile promises to boost climate targets, nations have shaved just 1 percent off their projected greenhouse gas emissions for 2030. Scientists have said the world needs to cut planet-warming emissions roughly in half by the end of the decade to be on track to meet its most ambitious promises. The U.N. report found that the ongoing “emissions gap” — the gulf between national plans to reduce carbon pollution and the actual cuts needed to avert catastrophic warming currently leaves the Earth on a path to warm by a dangerous 2.4 degrees Celsius (4.3 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. And few nations have implemented the policies necessary to meet even these inadequate targets, the report said. “Global and national climate commitments are falling pitifully short,” U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said at the time. “We must close the emissions gap before climate catastrophe closes in on us all.” Tuesday’s report from European researchers documents how humans are continuing to heat the planet. Researchers found that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide are at the highest levels in more than 2 million years. Levels of methane, a short-lived but powerful greenhouse gas, have also continued to increase and are at the highest levels in 800,000 years, according to Copernicus. “Greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane, are the main drivers of climate change, and we can see from our monitoring activities that atmospheric concentrations are continuing to rise with no signs of slowing,” Vincent-Henri Peuch, director of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, said in Tuesday’s announcement. That continued warming has led to an increase in suffering around the globe. Scientists have detailed how a warmer atmosphere is supercharging storms, intensifying droughts and leaving places less time to prepare before the next weather-related disaster strikes. European researchers on Tuesday noted that polar regions experienced episodes of record temperatures during 2022. That includes places like Greenland, where in September virtually all of the country experienced higher temperatures than in any year since at least 1979. They noted how Pakistan and northern India endured prolonged spring heat waves, and how central and eastern China faced long-lasting heat wave conditions and subsequent drought in the summer. There was the biblical flooding that displaced millions in Pakistan, along with torrential rains that led to deadly and costly floods from Australia to South Africa to the United States. And all indications are that as long as human-caused emissions continue to warm the globe, more disasters are likely to follow. “The frequency and severity of extreme climate disasters continue to increase,” Rick Spinrad, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told reporters Tuesday in recounting the U.S. weather-related disasters over the past year. “We must adapt and become resilient to climate threats we cannot avoid.”
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Previously reported – April  2023
World Has Less Than a Decade to Stop Catastrophic Warming, U.N. Panel Says
A new report says it is still possible to hold global warming to relatively safe levels, but doing so will require global cooperation, billions of dollars and big changes.
Earth is likely to cross a critical threshold for global warming within the next decade, and nations will need to make an immediate and drastic shift away from fossil fuels to prevent the planet from overheating dangerously beyond that level, according to a major new report released on Monday. The report, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of experts convened by the United Nations, offers the most comprehensive understanding to date of ways in which the planet is changing. It says that global average temperatures are estimated to rise 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels sometime around “the first half of the 2030s,” as humans continue to burn coal, oil and natural gas. That number holds a special significance in global climate politics: Under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, virtually every nation agreed to “pursue efforts” to hold global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Beyond that point, scientists say, the impacts of catastrophic heat waves, flooding, drought, crop failures and species extinction become significantly harder for humanity to handle. But Earth has already warmed an average of 1.1 degrees Celsius since the industrial age, and, with global fossil-fuel emissions setting records last year, that goal is quickly slipping out of reach. There is still one last chance to shift course, the new report says. But it would require industrialized nations to join together immediately to slash greenhouse gases roughly in half by 2030 and then stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere altogether by the early 2050s. If those two steps were taken, the world would have about a 50 percent chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Delays of even a few years would most likely make that goal unattainable, guaranteeing a hotter, more perilous future. “The pace and scale of what has been done so far and current plans are insufficient to tackle climate change,” said Hoesung Lee, the chair of the climate panel. “We are walking when we should be sprinting.” The report comes as the world’s two biggest polluters, China and the United States, continue to approve new fossil fuel projects. Last year, China issued permits for 168 coal-fired power plants of various sizes, according to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air in Finland. Last week, the Biden administration approved an enormous oil drilling project known as Willow that will take place on pristine federal land in Alaska. The report, which was approved by 195 governments, says that existing and currently planned fossil fuel infrastructure — coal-fired power plants, oil wells, factories, cars and trucks across the globe — will already produce enough carbon dioxide to warm the planet roughly 2 degrees Celsius this century. To keep warming below that level, many of those projects would need to be canceled, retired early or otherwise cleaned up. “The 1.5 degree limit is achievable, but it will take a quantum leap in climate action,” António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, said. In response to the report, Mr. Guterres called on countries to stop building new coal plants and to stop approving new oil and gas projects.  Many scientists have pointed out that surpassing the 1.5 degree threshold will not mean humanity is doomed. But every fraction of a degree of additional warming is expected to increase the severity of dangers that people around the world face, such as water scarcity, malnutrition and deadly heat waves. The difference between 1.5 degrees of warming and 2 degrees might mean that tens of millions more people worldwide experience life-threatening heat waves, water shortages and coastal flooding. A 1.5-degree world might still have coral reefs and summer Arctic sea ice, while a 2-degree world most likely would not. “It’s not that if we go past 1.5 degrees everything is lost,” said Joeri Rogelj, director of research at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College London. “But there’s clear evidence that 1.5 is better than 1.6, which is better than 1.7, and so on. The point is we need to do everything we can to keep warming as low as possible.” Scientists say that warming will largely halt once humans stop adding heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere, a concept known as “net zero” emissions. How quickly nations reach net zero will determine how hot the planet ultimately becomes. Under the current policies of national governments, Earth is on pace to heat up by 2.1 to 2.9 degrees Celsius this century, analysts have estimated. Both the United States and European Union have set goals of reaching net zero emissions by 2050, while China has set a 2060 goal and India is aiming for 2070. But in light of the report’s findings, Mr. Guterres said all countries should move faster and wealthy countries should aim to reach net zero by 2040. The new report is a synthesis of six previous landmark reports on climate change issued by the U.N. panel since 2018, each one compiled by hundreds of experts across the globe, approved by 195 countries and based on thousands of scientific studies. Taken together, the reports represent the most comprehensive look to date at the causes of global warming, the impacts that rising temperatures are having on people and ecosystems across the world and the strategies that countries can pursue to halt global warming. The report makes clear that humanity’s actions today have the potential to fundamentally reshape the planet for thousands of years. Many of the most dire climate scenarios once feared by scientists, such as those forecasting warming of 4 degrees Celsius or more, now look unlikely, as nations have invested more heavily in clean energy. At least 18 countries, including the United States, have managed to reduce their emissions for more than a decade, the report finds, while the costs of solar panels, wind turbines and lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles have plummeted. At the same time, even relatively modest increases in global temperature are now expected to be more disruptive than previously thought, the report concludes. At current levels of warming, for instance, food production is starting to come under strain. The world is still producing more food each year, thanks to improvements in farming and crop technology, but climate change has slowed the rate of growth, the report says. It’s an ominous trend that puts food security at risk as the world’s population soars past eight billion people. Today, the world is seeing record-shattering storms in California and catastrophic drought in places like East Africa. But by the 2030s, as temperatures rise, climate hazards are expected to increase all over the globe as different countries face more crippling heat waves, worsening coastal flooding and crop failures, the report says. At the same time, mosquitoes carrying diseases like malaria and dengue will spread into new areas, it adds. Nations have made some strides in preparing for the dangers of global warming, the report says, for instance by building coastal barriers against rising oceans or establishing early-warning systems for future storms. But many of those adaptation efforts are “incremental” and lack sufficient funding, particularly in poorer countries, the report finds. And if temperatures keep rising, many parts of the world may soon face limits in how much they can adapt. Beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, low-lying island nations and communities that depend on glaciers may face severe freshwater shortages. To stave off a chaotic future, the report recommends that nations move away from the fossil fuels that have underpinned economies for more than 180 years. Governments and companies would need to invest three to six times the roughly $600 billion they now spend annually on encouraging clean energy in order to hold global warming at 1.5 or 2 degrees, the report says. While there is currently enough global capital to do so, much of it is difficult for developing countries to acquire. The question of what wealthy, industrialized nations owe to poor, developing countries has been divisive at global climate negotiations. A wide array of strategies are available for reducing fossil-fuel emissions, such as scaling up wind and solar power, shifting to electric vehicles and electric heat pumps in buildings, curbing methane emissions from oil and gas operations, and protecting forests. But that may not be enough: Countries may also have to remove billions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year, relying on technology that barely exists today. The report acknowledges the enormous challenges ahead. Winding down coal, oil and gas projects would mean job losses and economic dislocation. Some climate solutions come with difficult trade-offs: Protecting forests, for instance, means less land for agriculture; manufacturing electric vehicles requires mining metals for use in their batteries. And because nations have waited so long to cut emissions, they will have to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to adapt to climate risks that are now unavoidable. The new report is expected to inform the next round of United Nations climate talks this December in Dubai, where world leaders will gather to assess their progress in tackling global warming. At last year’s climate talks in Sharm el Sheik, language calling for an end to fossil fuels was struck from the final agreement after pressure from several oil-producing nations. “Without a radical shift away from fossil fuels over the next few years, the world is certain to blow past the 1.5 C goal.” said Ani Dasgupta, president of the World Resources Institute, an environmental group. “The I.P.C.C. makes plain that continuing to build new unabated fossil fuel power plants would seal that fate,” he added, using the abbreviation for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The American Petroleum Institute, an industry trade group, responded by saying that oil and gas companies were working on technologies to curb emissions such as carbon capture, but that policymakers “must also consider the importance of adequate, affordable and reliable energy to meet growing global needs,” said Christina Noel, a spokesperson for the institute. While the next decade is almost certain to be hotter, scientists said the main takeaway from the report should be that nations still have enormous influence over the climate for the rest of the century. The report “is quite clear that whatever future we end up with is within our control,” said Piers Forster, a climate scientist at the University of Leeds who helped write one of the panel’s earlier reports. “It is up to humanity,” he added, “to determine what we end up with.”
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 Scientists issued another dire warning about climate change.

    • The takeaway: It’s all but inevitable that the world will surpass 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming above preindustrial levels within the next decade, according to a new U.N. report.
    • Why that matters: Beyond that threshold, climate disasters will become so extreme that people can’t adapt and basic components of Earth’s system will be irreversibly changed.
    • There is still hope: Drastic action to cut emissions could make a difference. But few countries are on track to meet even their existing climate goals.

World is on brink of catastrophic warming, U.N. climate change report says
A dangerous climate threshold is near, but ‘it does not mean we are doomed’ if swift action is taken, scientists say
The world is likely to pass a dangerous temperature threshold within the next 10 years, pushing the planet past the point of catastrophic warming — unless nations drastically transform their economies and immediately transition away from fossil fuels, according to one of the most definitive reports ever published about climate change. The report released Monday by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that the world is likely to surpass its most ambitious climate target — limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial temperatures — by the early 2030s. Beyond that threshold, scientists have found, climate disasters will become so extreme that people will not be able to adapt. Basic components of the Earth system will be fundamentally, irrevocably altered. Heat waves, famines and infectious diseases could claim millions of additional lives by century’s end. Human activities have already transformed the planet at a pace and scale unmatched in recorded history, the IPCC said, causing irreversible damage to communities and ecosystems. Yet global emissions continue to rise, and current carbon-cutting efforts are wildly insufficient to ward off climate catastrophe. Monday’s assessment synthesizes years of studies on the causes and consequences of rising temperatures, leading U.N. Secretary General António Guterres to demand that developed countries such as the United States eliminate carbon emissions by 2040 — a decade earlier than the rest of the world. With few nations on track to fulfill their climate commitments and with the developing world already suffering disproportionately from climate disasters, he said, rich countries have a responsibility to act faster than their low-income counterparts. The IPCC report shows humanity has reached a “critical moment in history,” IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee said. The world has all the knowledge, tools and financial resources needed to achieve its climate goals, but after decades of disregarding scientific warnings and delaying climate efforts, the window for action is rapidly closing. Calling the report, a “how-to guide to defuse the climate time-bomb,” Guterres announced on Monday an “acceleration agenda” that would speed up global actions on climate. Emerging economies including China and India — which plan to reach net zero in 2060 and 2070, respectively — must hasten their emissions-cutting efforts alongside developed nations, Guterres said. Both the U.N. chief and the IPCC also called for the world to phase out coal, oil and gas, which are responsible for more than three-quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions. “This report offers hope, and it provides a warning,” Lee told reporters Monday. “The choices we make now and in the next few years will reverberate around the world for hundreds, even thousands, of years.”
A stark scientific outlook
Already, the IPCC’s synthesis report shows, humanity has fundamentally and irreversibly transformed the Earth system. Emissions from burning fossil fuels and other planet-warming activities have increased global average temperatures by at least 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) since the start of the industrial era. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hasn’t been this high since archaic humans carved the first stone tools. These changes have caused irrevocable damage to communities and ecosystems, evidence shows: Fish populations are dwindling, farms are less productive, infectious diseases have multiplied, and weather disasters are escalating to unheard-of extremes. The risks from this relatively low level of warming are turning out to be greater than scientists anticipated — not because of any flaw in their research, but because human-built infrastructure, social networks and economic systems have proved exceptionally vulnerable to even small amounts of climate change, the report said. The suffering is worst in the world’s poorest countries and low-lying island nations, which are home to roughly 1 billion people yet account for less than 1 percent of humanity’s total planet-warming pollution, the report says. But as climate disruption increases with rising temperatures, not even the wealthiest and most well-protected places will be immune. In 2018, the IPCC found that a 1.5C world would be overwhelmingly safer than one that is 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the preindustrial era. At the time, scientists said humanity would have to zero out carbon emissions by 2050 to meet the 1.5-degree target and by 2070 to avoid warming beyond 2 degrees. Five years later, humanity isn’t anywhere close to reaching either goal. Unless nations adopt new environmental policies — and follow through on the ones already in place — global average temperatures could warm by 3.2 degrees Celsius (5.8 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, the synthesis report says. In that scenario, a child born today would live to see several feet of sea level rise, the extinction of hundreds of species and the migration of millions of people from places where they can no longer survive. “We are not doing enough, and the poor and vulnerable are bearing the brunt of our collective failure to act,” said Madeleine Diouf Sarr, Senegal’s top climate official and the chair for a group of least-developed countries that negotiate together at the United Nations. She pointed to the damage wrought by Cyclone Freddy, the longest-lasting and most energetic tropical storm on record, which has killed hundreds of people and displaced thousands more after bombarding southern Africa and Madagascar for more than a month. The report shows that higher temperatures make storms more powerful and sea level rise makes flooding from these storms more intense. Meanwhile, the report says, the death toll from these kinds of disasters is 15 times as high in vulnerable nations as it is in wealthier parts of the world. If the world stays on its current warming track, the IPCC says, global flood damage will be as much as four times as high as it will be if people limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. “The world cannot ignore the human cost of inaction,” Sarr said.
The price of delay
Though much of the synthesis report echoes warnings scientists have issued for decades, the assessment is notable for the blunt certainty of its rhetoric. The phrase “high confidence” appears nearly 200 times in the 36-page summary chapter. Humanity’s responsibility for all of the warming of the global climate system is described as an unassailable “fact.” Yet the report also details how public officials, private investors and other powerful groups have repeatedly failed to heed those warnings. More than 40 percent of cumulative carbon emissions have occurred since 1990 — when the IPCC published its first study on the dangerous consequences of unchecked warming. Governments continue to subsidize fossil fuel use; banks and businesses invest far more in polluting industries than they do in climate solutions. The consumption habits of the wealthiest 10 percent of people generate three times as much pollution as those of the poorest 50 percent, the report said. Decades of delay have denied the world any hope of an easy and gradual transition to a more sustainable economy, the panel says. Now, only “deep, rapid and … immediate” efforts across all aspects of society — combined with still-unproven technologies to pull carbon from the atmosphere — will be able to stave off catastrophe. “It’s not just the way we produce and use energy,” said Christopher Trisos, director of the Climate Risk Lab in the African Climate and Development Initiative at the University of Cape Town and a member of the core writing team for the synthesis report. “It’s the way we consume food, the way we protect nature. It’s kind of like everything, everywhere, all at once.” But few institutions are acting fast enough, the report said. November’s U.N. climate conference in Egypt ended without a resolution to phase down oil, gas and coal — a baseline requirement for curbing climate change. Last year, China approved its largest expansion of coal-fired power plants since 2015. Amid soaring profits, major oil companies are dialing back their clean-energy initiatives and deepening investments in fossil fuels. Humanity is rapidly burning through our “carbon budget” — the amount of pollution the world can afford to emit and still meet its warming targets, the IPCC said, and it projected that emissions from existing fossil fuel infrastructure will make it impossible to avoid the 1.5-degree threshold. Yet even as environmental ministers met in Switzerland last week to finalize the text of the IPCC report, the U.S. government approved a new Arctic drilling project that is expected to produce oil for the next 30 years, noted Hans-Otto Pörtner, a climatologist at Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute and a co-author of a dozen IPCC reports, including the latest one. “These decisions don’t match reality,” he said. “There is no more room for compromises.” Failure to act now won’t only condemn humanity to a hotter planet, the IPCC says. It will also make it impossible for future generations to cope with their changed environment. The report reveals thresholds in how much warming people and ecosystems can adapt to. Some are “soft” limits — determined by shortcomings in political and social systems. For example, a low-income community that can’t afford to build flood controls faces soft limits to dealing with sea level rise. But beyond 1.5 degrees of warming, the IPCC says, humanity will run up against “hard limits” to adaptation. Temperatures will get too high to grow many staple crops. Droughts will become so severe that even the strongest water conservation measures can’t compensate. In a world that has warmed roughly 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) — where humanity appears to be headed — the harsh physical realities of climate change will be deadly for countless plants, animals and people. “It’s as if we’re traveling on a carbon-intensive superhighway and we’re in the fast lane,” Trisos said. Unless people immediately pump the brakes on carbon emissions, we will zoom past the off exit for 1.5 degrees of warming — and there will be no turning back. Yet just like drivers who have missed their exit, humanity must strive to stay as close as possible to the 1.5-degree target, Trisos said. “We can still take the 1.6 exit, which will be better than 1.7.” “With every increment of global warming, the danger will increase,” he added. “As we leave it later and take hotter and hotter exits, the fewer options we have to thrive.”
‘It does not mean we are doomed’
Despite its stark language and dire warnings, the IPCC report sends a message of possibility, said Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at Imperial College London and a member of the core writing team for the report. “It’s not that we are depending on something that still needs to be invented,” she said. “We actually have all the knowledge we need. All the tools we need. We just need to implement it.” In many regions, the report says, electricity from renewable sources such as solar and wind is now cheaper than power from fossil fuels. Several countries have significantly reduced their emissions in the past decade, even as their economies grew. New analyses show how efforts to fight climate change can benefit society in countless other ways, from improving air quality to enhancing ecosystems to boosting public health. These “co-benefits” well outweigh the costs of near-term emissions reductions, even without accounting for the long-term advantages of avoiding dangerous warming. The IPCC also underscored that tackling climate change can help address global inequities — and vice versa. Stronger safety nets and policies that aid the poor can help foster support for the massive changes needed to help curb carbon emissions, the report says. Helping developing nations build renewable energy infrastructure will both avert emissions and alleviate the energy poverty that afflicts more than 700 million people worldwide, it said. “It gives a goal to work toward, to a world that looks different,” Otto said of the report.
“It does not mean we are doomed.”
Report authors say the IPCC’s assessment comes at a pivotal moment. Beginning this year, nations are required to start updating the emissions-cutting pledges they made in Paris in 2015. Diplomats are also hashing out the details of a “loss and damage” fund established at least year’s climate talks, which would provide compensation to vulnerable countries suffering irreversible climate harms. By the end of the COP28 climate conference in Dubai in December, Guterres said, the world’s leading economies should adopt climate plans in line with the IPCC’s findings. The steep political stakes of the IPCC’s findings were evident during the report’s marathon approval session, with representatives from nearly 200 countries haggling over the document’s discussion of climate justice. The science is indisputable, Lee said Monday: The world will not avoid catastrophic warming unless rich nations speed up their own carbon cuts and help poorer countries do the same. What’s not yet clear is whether world leaders will follow through. When asked about Guterres’s call for developed countries to move faster toward net-zero emissions, a State Department spokesperson instead directed attention toward China, which is now the world’s largest annual producer of greenhouse gases. But the planet can’t afford further delays or finger-pointing, the U.N. chief said. “Demanding others move first only ensures humanity comes last,” he said. “We don’t have a moment to lose.”
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Previously reported – May  2023
Heat Will Likely Soar to Record Levels in Next 5 Years, New Analysis Says
The News
Global temperatures are likely to soar to record highs over the next five years, driven by human-caused warming and a climate pattern known as El Niño, forecasters at the World Meteorological Organization said on Wednesday. The record for Earth’s hottest year was set in 2016. There is a 98 percent chance that at least one of the next five years will exceed that, the forecasters said, while the average from 2023 to ’27 will almost certainly be the warmest for a five-year period ever recorded. “This will have far-reaching repercussions for health, food security, water management and the environment,” said Petteri Taalas, the secretary general of the meteorological organization. “We need to be prepared.”
Why It Matters: Every fraction of a degree brings new risks.
Even small increases in warming can exacerbate the dangers from heat waves, wildfires, drought and other calamities, scientists say. Elevated global temperatures in 2021 helped fuel a heat wave in the Pacific Northwest that shattered local records and killed hundreds of people. El Niño conditions can cause further turmoil by shifting global precipitation patterns. The meteorological organization said it expected increased summer rainfall over the next five years in places like Northern Europe and the Sahel in sub-Saharan Africa and reduced rainfall in the Amazon and parts of Australia. The organization reported that there is also a two thirds chance that one of the next five years could be 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, hotter than the 19th-century average. That does not mean that the world will have officially breached the aspirational goal in the Paris climate agreement of holding global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. When scientists talk about that temperature goal, they generally mean a longer-term average over, say, two decades in order to root out the influence of natural variability. Many world leaders have insisted on the 1.5-degree limit to keep the risks of climate change to tolerable levels. But nations have delayed so long in making the monumental changes necessary to achieve this goal, such as drastically cutting fossil-fuel emissions, that scientists now think the world will probably exceed that threshold around the early 2030s.
Background: La Niña, a cooling influence, is on the way out.
Global average temperatures have already increased roughly 1.1 degrees Celsius since the 19th century, largely because humans keep burning fossil fuels and pumping heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But while that overall upward trend is clear, global temperatures can bounce up and down a bit from year to year because of natural variability. For instance, a cyclical phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean, the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, causes year-to-year fluctuations by shifting heat in and out of deeper ocean layers. Global surface temperatures tend to be somewhat cooler during La Niña years and somewhat hotter during El Niño years. The last record hot year, 2016, was an El Niño year. By contrast, La Niña conditions have dominated for much of the past three years: while they’ve been unusually warm, they were still slightly below 2016 levels. Now, scientists are expecting El Niño conditions to return later this summer. When combined with steadily rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, that will most likely cause temperatures to accelerate to new highs.
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Global temperatures could soon briefly breach climate threshold, scientists warn
The World Meteorological Organization virtually guarantees that one of the next five years will be the warmest on record, announcing Wednesday that a developing El Niño pattern will overlap with worsening human-caused climate change to push Earth’s temperatures into uncharted territory. While Earth’s temperatures have fluctuated wildly over its 4.5 billion year history, it’s well established that human emissions are accelerating warming at a breakneck pace, the rapidity of which is distinct from natural processes. Experts at the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) anticipate that global temperatures at some point in the next five years will, at least temporarily, spike above the 1.5 degree Celsius (2.7 degree Fahrenheit) benchmark outlined in the Paris Climate Accords, an agreement signed by 196 countries at the United Nations Climate Change Conference on Dec. 12, 2015. That 1.5 degree Celsius number is compared to preindustrial levels. “WMO is sounding the alarm that we will breach the 1.5 [degree Celsius] level on a temporary basis with increasing frequency,” said WMO secretary general Prof. Peter Taalas in a news release. Although the WMO suggests the global temperature could temporarily reach that level, separate analyses have previously suggested a more permanent arrival above the 1.5 degree Celsius threshold is more likely to arrive in the 2030s. The WMO suggests there’s a 1 in 3 chance that it will occur in the next five years.
What the WMO is predicting
The World Meteorological Organization is warning of the following:

    • A 66 percent chance, or roughly 2 out of 3 odds, that Earth’s global temperature exceeds the 1.5 degree Celsius (2.7 degree Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels benchmark at least once in the next five years.
    • A 98 percent likelihood, or essentially a guarantee, that at least one of the next five years will go down as Earth’s warmest on record. Records date back to around 1850.
    • There is also a 98 percent chance that the upcoming five-year block, 2023 to 2027, could average as the hottest five-year window on record. (The past eight years were the eight warmest on record.)
    • Heating of the Arctic is predicted to triple average warming globally. Some peer-reviewed research indicates that a disproportionate warming of the poles can increase the amplitude, or waviness, of the jet stream, leading to more extreme weather patterns. There is also research to suggest reduced periodicity of the jet stream, or a slowing of its west-to-east propagation. That allows weather patterns to become “stuck” for longer.

Climate change and El Niño overlap
The past three years have featured a “triple dip” La Niña, or a global weather pattern born from a cooling of the waters in the eastern tropical Pacific. That fostered sinking motion in the air over the Pacific, in turn allowing rising motion and enhanced hurricane seasons in the Atlantic. Now meteorologists are anticipating a flip-flop, with an abrupt warm-up of waters in the eastern Pacific. The Climate Prediction Center at the National Weather Service predicts an 80 percent chance of a moderate El Niño developing in the coming months, with a 55 percent likelihood it will be “strong.” There’s also a 90 percent shot it sticks around into the Northern Hemisphere’s winter months. Earth’s temperature is known to warm during an El Niño. That’s why scientists are concerned about it exacerbating the effects of climate change, which continue to grow. For six of the past seven decades, the warmest year of each of said decades was an El Niño year. That’s why it’s highly probable that at least one of the next several years, which will inevitably feature an El Niño, will be catapulted above the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold.
Fitting into a larger pattern
Since 1850, or before the Industrial Revolution, global temperatures have warmed about 1.1 degree Celsius, or about 2 degrees Fahrenheit. That may seem inconsequential, but subtle changes in temperature can have cascading ripple effects on the fundamental behaviors of the atmosphere and the innumerable land, water, ice and ecological cycles that interact with it. For each degree Fahrenheit the air temperature warms, the air can hold 4 percent more water. (For each degree Celsius, it can hold 7 percent more water.) That means temperature rises are accompanied by an exponential increase in the atmosphere’s moisture-storing capacity. Where moisture is available, flooding rains are becoming increasingly common. Where and when it’s not, drought is becoming more severe and more deeply entrenched. The warming climate has also been tied to more extreme wildfire behavior and increased areal coverage of land burned, stronger and more rapidly intensifying tropical cyclones/hurricanes, cold-season tornado outbreaks and a litany of other hazards. While 2016, an El Niño year, still holds the record for the warmest year catalogued by WMO data sets, the past eight years are the eight warmest on record. While it’s impossible to say with certainty where 2023 will end up, the year is already off to an alarming start. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said there’s a greater than 1 in 4 chance that 2023 becomes the new warmest year on record, and a 9 out of 10 chance of it being a top-five year. After setting a record in 2022, for example, global ocean temperatures are running 0.1 to 0.2 degrees Celsius higher than ever observed by satellites this time of year. That’s mirrored by record global ocean heat content — a known fuel for strong hurricanes. In just the past few weeks, air temperature records have abounded worldwide. That’s been especially true in Southeast Asia, one of the most densely populated places in the world. On May 6, Luang Prabang in Laos made it to 110.3 degrees, beating out its 108.9-degree all-time record set just last month. Vietnam also broke a national heat record, hitting 111.6 degrees in Tuong Duong. Bangkok got to 104.9 degrees, its all-time record, and Cambodia, as well as parts of China, set records for the month of May. Heat records have been smashed in the U.S. Pacific Northwest and historic wildfires are burning unusually early in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, suffocating the city of Calgary in a toxic orange shroud. And on Wednesday, 35 weather stations in Japan logged their hottest May day on record. Each of the events is made more likely and intense by the effects of human influence.
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Previously reported – June  2023
The Earth Keeps Breaking Temperature Records
It’s not your imagination. In addition to the unprecedented wildfires, tropical storms and flooding, it is indeed much hotter than you remember as a child. And yes, it’s because of global warming. Global temperatures have smashed through records this week, underscoring the dangers of  ever-increasing greenhouse gas emissions generated from the burning of fossil fuels. The average worldwide temperature reached 17C (63F) on Monday, just above the previous record of 16.9C in August 2016, according to  data from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction. “It’s a death sentence for people and ecosystems,” said Friederike Otto, a senior lecturer at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment. And it’s about to get worse.

Earth entering ‘uncharted territory’ as heat records quickly shatter
Scientists say to brace for more extreme weather and probably a record-warm 2023 amid unprecedented temperatures
A remarkable spate of historic heat is hitting the planet, raising alarm over looming extreme weather dangers — and an increasing likelihood this year will be Earth’s warmest on record. New precedents have been set in recent weeks and months, surprising some scientists with their swift evolution: Historically warm oceans, with North Atlantic temperatures already nearing their typical annual peak; unparalleled low sea ice levels around Antarctica, where global warming impacts had, until now, been slower to appear; and the planet experiencing its warmest June ever charted, according to new data. And then, on Monday came Earth’s hottest day in at least 125,000 years. Tuesday was hotter. “We have never seen anything like this before,” said Carlo Buontempo, director of Europe’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. He said any number of charts and graphs on Earth’s climate are showing, quite literally, that “we are in uncharted territory.” It is no shock that global warming is accelerating — scientists were anticipating that would come with the onset of El Niño, the infamous climate pattern that reemerged last month. It is known for unleashing surges of heat and moisture that trigger extreme floods and storms in some places, and droughts and fires in others. But the hot conditions are developing too quickly, and across more of the planet, to be explained solely by El Niño. Records are falling around the globe many months ahead of the El Niño’s peak impact, which typically hits in December and sends global temperatures soaring for months to follow. “We have been seeing unprecedented extremes in the recent past even without being in this phase,” said Claudia Tebaldi, an earth scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. With El Niño’s influence, “the likelihood of seeing something unprecedented is even higher,” she said. In recent weeks, weather extremes have included record-breaking heat waves in China, where Beijing surpassed 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) for the first time, and in Mexico and Texas, where officials were once again struggling to keep the electricity grid up and running. Wildfire smoke that has repeatedly choked parts of the United States this summer is a visible reminder of abnormal spring heat and unusually dry weather that have fueled an unprecedented wildfire season in Canada, which saw both its hottest May and June. Ocean heat is to be expected during El Niño — it is marked by unusually warm sea surface temperatures along the equatorial Pacific. But shocking warmth has developed far beyond that zone, including in the North Pacific, around New Zealand and across most of the Atlantic. Marine heat wave conditions covered about 40 percent of the world’s oceans in June, the greatest area on record, NOAA reported. That footprint is only expected to grow, forecast to reach 50 percent of ocean waters by September.

Records broken by wide margins
It’s not just that records are being broken — but the massive margins with which conditions are surpassing previous extremes, scientists note. In parts of the North Atlantic, temperatures are running as high as 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal, the warmest observed there in more than 170 years. The warm waters helped northwestern Europe, including the United Kingdom, clinch its warmest June on record. New data the Copernicus center published Thursday showed global surface air temperatures were 0.53 degrees Celsius (0.95 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1991-2020 average in June. That was more than a tenth of a degree Celsius above the previous record, “a substantial margin,” the center said. Antarctic sea ice, meanwhile, reached its lowest June extent since the dawn of the satellite era, at 17 percent below the 1991-2020 average, Copernicus said. The previous record, set a year earlier, was about 9 percent below average. The planet is increasingly flirting with a global warming benchmark that policymakers have sought to avoid — 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels. It has, at times, been surpassed already this year, including in early June, though the concern is when long-term averages creep closer to that threshold, Buontempo said. “The average will get there at some point,” he said. “It will become easier and easier, given the warming of the climate system, to exceed that threshold.” Halfway through 2023, the year to date ranks as third-warmest on record, according to Copernicus.

Odds of a record-warm year, once considered slim, are rising
At the start of 2023, it appeared possible, if only narrowly, that the year would end up Earth’s warmest on record. For now, 2016 holds that benchmark, heavily influenced by a major El Niño episode that arrived the previous year. But as El Niño has rapidly developed — and as signs of extreme warmth have spread across the planet — the odds of a new global temperature record have increased. Robert Rohde, lead scientist at Berkeley Earth, estimates the probability has climbed to at least 54 percent — more likely than not. “The warmth thus far in 2023 and the development of El Niño has definitely progressed faster than initially expected,” Rohde said in a message. Climate scientists diverge over whether a new global temperature record should be a focus of concern. Flavio Lehner, an assistant professor at Cornell University, likened it to tracking sports scores. “It’s not necessarily meaningful,” Lehner said. What matters, he said, is that “we have a long-term trend that is a warming climate.” For others, though, records are a sign of trouble, nearly as hard for people to ignore as the incessant waves of wildfire smoke. “It just raises everybody’s awareness that this is not getting better; it’s getting worse,” said Jennifer Francis, senior scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center in Massachusetts. “My hope is that we’ll raise alarm bells by breaking a new record and that will help motivate people to do the right thing and stop ignoring this crisis.” For Tebaldi, the significance is this: A glimpse of a not-so-distant future where conditions that are now considered extreme become the norm.
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Previously reported – August  2023
U.S., European heat waves ‘virtually impossible’ without climate change, new study finds
The life-threatening heat waves that have baked U.S. cities and inflamed European wildfires in recent weeks would be “virtually impossible” without the influence of human-caused climate change, a team of international researchers said Tuesday. Global warming, they said, also made China’s recent record-setting heat wave 50 times more likely. Soaring temperatures are punishing the Northern Hemisphere this summer. In the U.S., more than 2,000 high temperature records have been broken in the past 30 days, according to federal data. In Southern Europe, an observatory in Palermo, Sicily, which has kept temperature records on the Mediterranean coast since 1791, hit 117 degrees Fahrenheit, Monday, shattering its previous recorded high. And in China, a small northwest town recently recorded the hottest temperature in the country’s history. July is likely to be the hottest month on Earth since records have been kept. “Without climate change we wouldn’t see this at all or it would be so rare that it would basically be not happening,” said Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at Imperial College London, who helped lead the new research as part of a collaborative group called World Weather Attribution. El Niño, a natural weather pattern, is likely contributing to some of the heat, the researchers said, “but the burning of fossil fuels is the main reason the heatwaves are so severe.” Global temperatures have increased nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the start of the Industrial Revolution, when humans started burning fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas in earnest. To determine what role that warming has played on the current heat waves, the researchers looked at weather data from the three continents and used peer-reviewed computer model simulations to compare the climate as it is today with what it was in the past. The study is a so-called rapid attribution report, which aims to explain the role of climate change in ongoing or recent extreme weather events. It has not yet been peer-reviewed. The researchers found that greenhouse gas emissions are not only making extreme heat waves — the world’s deadliest weather events — more common, but that they’ve made the current heat waves hotter than they would have otherwise been by multiple degrees Fahrenheit — a finding, Otto said, that wasn’t surprising. Bernadette Woods Placky, chief meteorologist at Climate Central, who wasn’t involved in the research but had reviewed its findings, agreed with that assessment. “It is not surprising that there’s a climate connection with the extreme heat that we’re seeing around the world right now,” Placky said. “We know we’re adding more greenhouse gases to our atmosphere, and we continue to add more of them through the burning of fossil fuels. And the more heat that we put into our atmosphere, it will translate into bigger heat events.” Even a small rise in temperatures can lead to increased illness and death, according to the World Health Organization. Hot temperatures can cause heat exhaustion, severe dehydration and raise the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Those risks are even higher in low-income neighborhoods and in communities of color, where research has found temperatures are often hotter than in white neighborhoods. Heat waves in Europe last summer killed an estimated 61,000 people — most of them women — according to a recent study published in the journal Nature. A stifling heat dome in the Pacific Northwest in 2021 is believed to have killed hundreds in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia. “Dangerous climate change is here now,” said Michael Wehner, a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who studies how climate change influences extreme weather and has published work on the 2021 heat dome. “I’ve been saying that for 10 years, so now my saying is, ‘dangerous climate change is here now and if you don’t know that, you’re not paying attention.'”
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It’s official: Scientists confirm July was the hottest month ever recorded

    • Global air and ocean temperatures soared to a record high in July, according to the EU’s climate change service Copernicus.
    • “These records have dire consequences for both people and the planet exposed to ever more frequent and intense extreme events,” said Samantha Burgess, deputy director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service.
    • C3S and the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization recently recognized the first three weeks of July as hottest three-week period on record.

 Global air and ocean temperatures soared to a record high in July, according to the EU’s climate change service Copernicus, deepening concern among climate scientists at a time when a spate of heat records suggest the planet has entered uncharted territory. The EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said Tuesday that the global average surface air temperature in July was confirmed to be the highest on record for any month. July was found to be a whopping 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer than the average for the 1850-1900 period and 0.33 degrees Celsius warmer than the previous warmest month of July 2019. Meanwhile, global average sea surface temperatures continued to rise in July, the EU’s climate monitor said, after a long period of unusually high temperatures stretching back to April. For the month as a whole, the planet’s average sea surface temperature was 0.51 degrees Celsius above the 1991 to 2020 average. The data, which is collated from the measurement of satellites, ships, aircraft and weather stations around the world, follows a flurry of record-breaking heat waves across multiple regions. Vast parts of Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Asia have suffered from scorching heat in recent weeks, while South American countries have been gripped by record-breaking temperatures in the middle of winter. “These records have dire consequences for both people and the planet exposed to ever more frequent and intense extreme events,” Samantha Burgess, deputy director of C3S, said in a statement. “Even if this is only temporary, it shows the urgency for ambitious efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, which are the main driver behind these records,” she added. C3S and the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization recently recognized the first three weeks of July as hottest three-week period on record. The record heat affecting communities across the globe is fueled by the climate emergency. Scientists say the extreme weather events underscore the urgency of cutting greenhouse gas emissions as quickly and deeply as possible.

‘Just the beginning’
C3S said 2023 was the third-hottest on record in the year to date at 0.43 degrees Celsius above the recent average. The gap between this year and 2016 — the hottest year on record — is expected to narrow in the coming months. That’s because the latter months of 2016 were relatively cool, C3S said, while the remainder of 2023 is poised to be comparatively warm as the current El Niño event develops. El Niño is a naturally occurring climate pattern that contributes to higher temperatures across the globe. The U.N. weather agency declared the onset of El Niño on July 4, warning its return could pave the way for extreme weather conditions. Speaking at the U.N. headquarters in New York City late last month, Secretary-General António Guterres warned that “the era of global boiling” has arrived. “For scientists, it is unequivocal — humans are to blame,” Guterres said on July 27. “All this is entirely consistent with predictions and repeated warnings. The only surprise is the speed of the change. Climate change is here. It is terrifying, and it is just the beginning.”
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Previously reported – August  2023
Summer 2023: the hottest on record
According to Samantha Burgess, Deputy Director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S): “Global temperature records continue to tumble in 2023, with the warmest August following on from the warmest July and June leading to the warmest boreal summer in our data record going back to 1940. 2023 is currently ranked as the second warmest, at only 0.01ºC behind 2016 with four months of the year remaining. Meanwhile, the global ocean saw in August both the warmest daily surface temperature on record, and it’s the warmest month on record. The scientific evidence is overwhelming – we will continue to see more climate records and more intense and frequent extreme weather events impacting society and ecosystems, until we stop emitting greenhouse gases.” 
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Odds that 2023 will be Earth’s hottest year have doubled, NOAA reports
There’s now a greater than 93 percent chance 2023 will surpass 2016 as the planet’s warmest year
After a record-hot stretch around the globe this summer, it appears all but certain: 2023 will surpass 2016 as Earth’s warmest year on record. Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calculate that there’s a 93.42 percent chance that 2023 will become the hottest year according to a monthly climate report released Thursday. That percentage is nearly double what was estimated a month earlier (46.82 percent) and a whopping 86 percentage points higher than the beginning of the year projection (6.9 percent). The calculation — with four months remaining in the year — underscores how dramatically observations of global air and ocean temperatures and ice extent have diverged from anything scientists have previously witnessed, or that they would have predicted at the start of the year. Signs of unusual warmth began to appear in early spring, and the trend has not wavered since. July was the planet’s hottest single month on record, with possibly its most extreme sustained warmth in 125,000 years. The three months from June through August were the globe’s hottest in 174 years of record keeping, 0.43 degrees (0.24 degrees Celsius) above the previous record and 2.07 degrees (1.15 degrees Celsius) above the 20th century average for Northern Hemisphere summer, according to NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. That affirms estimates European Union scientists released last week, declaring a record-warm summer “by a large margin.” Deke Arndt, the NOAA centers’ director, shared the report on X (the platform formerly known as Twitter) with an unusual declaration. “I’m rarely stunned by our findings,” he wrote. “Yesterday when the climate monitoring team briefed this, it took me five minutes just to process the magnitude.” A new global temperature record began to appear possible when the climate pattern El Niño emerged in June — but scientists thought it would come in 2024. El Niño is associated with warmer-than-normal surface waters in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean and is known for heating up the planet and fueling extreme weather. A strong El Niño pattern that formed in 2015 and lasted into 2016 helped push the planet to record average warmth in 2016. But this year’s warming pattern has differed from the heat of 2016, said Robert Rohde, lead scientist for Berkeley Earth. “Most of the time when you are building towards a new record, the weather is warm from the very start,” Rohde said in an email. ” But this year, extreme temperatures did not emerge until June. “That path towards record warmth is quite unusual,” Rohde said. Rohde and Berkeley Earth calculate there’s greater than a 99 percent chance that 2023 will be the warmest, a huge leap since the beginning of the year when they placed the odds at just 14 percent. While El Niño may to some degree be responsible for the onset of this year’s warming, oceans are record-hot far beyond the epicenter of the El Niño pattern in the Pacific. Heat in the Atlantic basin caused disastrous bleaching of Florida coral reefs and has aided the rapid intensification of hurricanes. Around Antarctica, during Southern Hemisphere winter, sea ice cover reached a maximum far smaller than any scientists have observed before. Arndt noted that while some might seek to dismiss new extremes in a record book that goes back 174 years as “a blip in geological time,” he stressed they are nonetheless exceptional. “Fact is, they are the most important, vital 174 yrs. in the history of humanity’s relationship with the Earth system, when almost everything we know about agriculture and infrastructure was found or refined,” he wrote on X.
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Previously reported – August  2023
Earth is on track for its hottest year yet, according to a European climate agency
After a summer of record-smashing heat, warming somehow got even worse in September as Earth set a new mark for how far above normal temperatures were, the European climate agency reported Thursday. Last month’s average temperature was 0.93 degrees Celsius (1.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1991-2020 average for September. That’s the warmest margin above average for a month in 83 years of records kept by the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. “It’s just mind-blowing really,” said Copernicus Director Carlo Buontempo. “Never seen anything like that in any month in our records.” While July and August had hotter raw temperatures because they are warmer months on the calendar, September had what scientists call the biggest anomaly, or departure from normal. Temperature anomalies are crucial pieces of data in a warming world.

“This is not a fancy weather statistic,” Imperial College of London climate scientist Friederike Otto said in an email. “It’s a death sentence for people and ecosystems. It destroys assets, infrastructure, harvest.” Copernicus calculated that the average temperature for September was 16.38 degrees Celsius (61.48 degrees Fahrenheit), which broke the old record set in September 2020 by a whopping half-degree Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit). That’s a huge margin in climate records. The hot temperatures stretched across the globe, but they were chiefly driven by persistent and unusual warmth in the world’s oceans, which didn’t cool off as much in September as normal and have been record hot since spring, said Buontempo. Earth is on track for its hottest year on record, about 1.4 degrees Celsius (2.5 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than pre-industrial times, according to Samantha Burgess, Copernicus’ deputy director. This past September was 1.75 degrees Celsius (3.15 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the mid-1800s, Copernicus reported. The world agreed in 2015 to try to limit future warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) warming since pre-industrial times. The global threshold goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius is for long-term temperature averages, not a single month or year. But scientists still expressed grave concern at the records being set. “What we’re seeing right now is the backdrop of rapid global warming at a pace that the Earth has not seen in eons coupled with El Nino, natural climate cycle” that’s a temporary warming of parts of the Pacific Ocean that changes weather worldwide, said U.S. climate scientist Jessica Moerman, who is also president of the Evangelical Environmental Network. “This double whammy together is where things get dangerous.” Though El Nino is playing a part, climate change has a bigger footprint in this warmth, Buontempo said. “There really is no end in sight given new oil and gas reserves are still being opened for exploitation,” Otto said. “If you have more record hot events, there is no respite for humans and nature, no time to recover.” Buontempo said El Nino is likely to get warmer and cause even higher temperatures next year. “This month was, in my professional opinion as a climate scientist – absolutely gobsmackingly bananas,” climate scientist Zeke Hausfather said on X, formerly known as Twitter.
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Previously reported – October  2023
2023 Virtually Certain to Be the Hottest Year on Record, Scientists Say
Analyzing data from October, European climate scientists found another record-breaking month for temperatures around the world.
October 2023 was the warmest October on record globally, according to data from European climate scientists released on Wednesday. It comes on the heels of the hottest September on record and the hottest summer months globally, rounding out a year of record temperatures around the planet. “We can say with near certainty that 2023 will be the warmest year on record and is currently 1.43 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial average,” Samantha Burgess, deputy director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, said in a statement. The analysis, which relies heavily on computer modeling, uses billions of measurements from satellites, ships, aircraft and weather stations around the world. The difference in global temperature compared with the long-term average for October 2023 was the second highest across all months in the Copernicus data set, behind only September 2023. The analysis includes data from January 1940 to the present. About September’s data, Zeke Hausfather, a research scientist at Berkeley Earth, writes: “As global temperatures shattered records and reached dangerous new highs over and over the past few months, my climate scientist colleagues and I have just about run out of adjectives to describe what we have seen.” The United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP28, is scheduled to begin in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates at the end of the month. “The sense of urgency for ambitious climate action going into COP28 has never been higher,” Dr. Burgess said.
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Previously reported – January  2024
It’s official: 2023 was Earth’s warmest year in a century and a half, with temperatures breaking records month after month.
The numbers are in, and scientists can now confirm what month after month of extraordinary heat worldwide began signaling long ago. Last year was Earth’s warmest by far in a century and a half. Global temperatures started blowing past records midyear and didn’t stop. First, June was the planet’s warmest June on record. Then, July was the warmest July. And so on, all the way through December. Averaged across last year, temperatures worldwide were 1.48 degrees Celsius, or 2.66 Fahrenheit, higher than they were in the second half of the 19th century, the European Union climate monitor announced on Tuesday. That is warmer by a sizable margin than 2016, the previous hottest year. To climate scientists, it comes as no surprise that unabated emissions of greenhouse gases caused global warming to reach new highs. What researchers are still trying to understand is whether 2023 foretells many more years in which heat records are not merely broken but smashed. In other words, they are asking whether the numbers are a sign that the planet’s warming is accelerating. “The extremes we have observed over the last few months provide a dramatic testimony of how far we now are from the climate in which our civilization developed,” Carlo Buontempo, the director of the E.U.’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, said in a statement. Every tenth of a degree of global warming represents extra thermodynamic fuel that intensifies heat waves and storms, adds to rising seas and hastens the melting of glaciers and ice sheets. Those effects were on display last year. Hot weather baked Iran and China, Greece and Spain, Texas and the American South. Canada had its most destructive wildfire season on record by far, with more than 45 million acres burned. Less sea ice formed around the coasts of Antarctica, in both summer and winter, than ever measured. NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the research group Berkeley Earth are scheduled to release their own estimates of 2023 temperatures later this week. Each organization’s data sources, and analytical methods are somewhat different, though their results rarely diverge by much. Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, nations agreed to limit long-term global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, and, if possible, 1.5 degrees. At present rates of greenhouse gas emissions, it will only be a few years before the 1.5-degree goal is a lost cause, researchers say.
Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are the main driver of global warming. But last year several other natural and human-linked factors also helped boost temperatures. The 2022 eruption of an underwater volcano off the Pacific island nation of Tonga spewed vast amounts of water vapor into the atmosphere, helping trap more heat near Earth’s surface. Recent limits on sulfur pollution from ships brought down levels of aerosols, or tiny airborne particles that reflect solar radiation and help cool the planet. Another factor was El Niño, the recurrent shift in tropical Pacific weather patterns that began last year and is often linked with record-setting heat worldwide. And that contains a warning of potentially worse to come this year. The reason: In recent decades, very warm years have typically been ones that started in an El Niño state. But last year, the El Niño didn’t start until midyear — which suggests that El Niño wasn’t the main driver of the abnormal warmth at that point, said Emily J. Becker, a climate scientist at the University of Miami. It is also a strong sign that this year could be hotter than last. “It’s very, very likely to be top three, if not the record,” Dr. Becker said, referring to 2024. Scientists caution that a single year, even one as exceptional as 2023, can tell us only so much about how the planet’s long-term warming might be changing. But other signs suggest the world is heating up more quickly than before. About 90 percent of the energy trapped by greenhouse gases accumulates in the oceans, and scientists have found that the oceans’ uptake of heat has accelerated significantly since the 1990s. “If you look at that curve, it’s clearly not linear,” said Sarah Purkey, an oceanographer with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. A group of researchers in France recently found that the Earth’s total heating — across oceans, land, air and ice — had been speeding up for even longer, since 1960. This broadly matches up with increases in carbon emissions and reductions in aerosols over the past few decades. But scientists will need to continue studying the data to understand whether other factors might be at work, too, said one of the researchers, Karina von Schuckmann, an oceanographer at Mercator Ocean International in Toulouse, France. “Something unusual is happening that we don’t understand,” Dr. von Schuckmann said.
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Scientists knew 2023’s heat would be historic — but not by this much
The year 2023 was the hottest in recorded human history, Europe’s top climate agency announced Tuesday, with blistering surface temperatures and torrid ocean conditions pushing the planet dangerously close to a long-feared warming threshold. According to new data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service, Earth’s average temperature last year was 1.48 degrees Celsius (2.66 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter than the preindustrial average, before humans began to warm the planet through fossil fuel burning and other polluting activities. Last year shattered the previous global temperature record by almost two-tenths of a degree — the largest jump scientists have ever observed. This year is predicted to be even hotter. By the end of January or February, the agency warned, the planet’s 12-month average temperature is likely to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above the preindustrial level — blasting past the world’s most ambitious climate goal. The announcement of a new temperature record comes as little surprise to scientists who have witnessed the past 12 months of raging wildfires, deadly ocean heat waves, cataclysmic flooding and a worrisome Antarctic thaw. A scorching summer and “gobsmacking” autumn temperature anomalies had all but guaranteed that 2023 would be a year for the history books. But the amount by which the previous record was broken shocked even climate experts. “I don’t think anybody was expecting anomalies as large as we have seen,” Copernicus director Carlo Buontempo said. “It was on the edge of what was plausible.” The staggering new statistics underscore how human-caused climate change has allowed regular planetary fluctuations to push temperatures into uncharted territory. Each of the past eight years was already among the eight warmest ever observed. Then, a complex and still somewhat mysterious host of climatic influences combined with human activities to push 2023 even hotter — ushering in an age of “global boiling,” in the words of United Nations Secretary General António Guterres. Unless nations transform their economies and rapidly transition away from polluting fuels, experts warn, this level of warming will unravel ecological webs and cause human-built systems to collapse.

A year that ‘doesn’t have an equivalent’
When ominous warmth first appeared in Earth’s oceans last spring, scientists said it was a likely sign that record global heat was imminent — but not until 2024. But as the planet transitioned into an El Niño climate pattern — characterized by warm Pacific Ocean waters — temperatures took a steeper jump. July and August were the two warmest months in the 173-year record Copernicus examined. As Antarctic sea ice dwindled and the planet’s hottest places flirted with conditions too extreme for people to survive, scientists speculated that 2023 would not only be the warmest on record — it might well exceed anything seen in the last 100,000 years. Analyses of fossils, ice cores and ocean sediments suggest that global temperatures haven’t been this high since before the last ice age, when Homo sapiens had just begun to migrate out of Africa and hippos roamed in what is now Germany. Autumn brought even greater departures from the norm. Temperatures in September were almost a full degree Celsius hotter than the average over the past 30 years, making it the most unusually warm month in Copernicus’s data set. And two days in November were, for the first time ever, more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter than the preindustrial average for those dates. “What we have seen in 2023 doesn’t have an equivalent,” Buontempo said. The record-setting conditions in 2023 were driven in part by unprecedented warmth in the oceans’ surface waters, Copernicus said. The agency measured marine heat waves from the Indian Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. Parts of the Atlantic Ocean experienced temperatures 4 to 5 degrees Celsius (7.2 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit) above average — a level that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration classifies as “beyond extreme.” While researchers have not yet determined the impacts on sea life, similar heat waves have caused massive harms to microorganisms at the base of the food web, bleached corals and fueled toxic algae blooms, she added. Though the oceans cover about two-thirds of Earth’s surface, scientists estimate they have absorbed about 90 percent of the extra warming from humans’ burning of fossil fuels and the greenhouse effect those emissions have in the atmosphere. “The ocean is our sentinel,” said Karina von Schuckmann, an oceanographer at the nonprofit Mercator Ocean International. The dramatic warming in the ocean is a clear signal of “how much the Earth is out of energy balance,” she added — with heat continuing to build faster than it can be released from the planet.

What drove the record warmth
Scientists are still disentangling the factors that made 2023 so unusual. The largest and most obvious is El Niño, the infamous global climate pattern that emerges a few times a decade and is known to boost average planetary temperatures by a few tenths of a degree Celsius, or as much as half a degree Fahrenheit. El Niño’s signature is a zone of warmer-than-normal waters in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, which release vast amounts of heat and water vapor and trigger extreme weather patterns around the world. But El Niño alone cannot explain the extraordinary heat of the past 12 months, according to Copernicus. Because it wasn’t just the Pacific that exhibited dramatic warmth in 2023. Scientists also believe the Atlantic may have warmed as a result of weakened westerly winds, which tend to churn up waters and send surface warmth into deeper ocean layers. It could also have been the product of below-normal Saharan dust in the air; the particles normally act to block some sunlight from reaching the ocean surface. Around the world, in fact, there has been a decline in sun-blocking particles known as aerosols, in large part because of efforts to reduce air pollution. In recent years, shipping freighters have taken measures to reduce their emissions. Scientists have speculated the decline in aerosols may have allowed more sun to reach the oceans. And then there is the potential impact of a massive underwater volcanic eruption. When Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai blasted a plume 36 miles high in January 2022, scientists warned it released so much water vapor into the atmosphere, it could have a lingering effect for months, if not years, to come. NASA satellite data showed the volcano sent an unprecedented amount of water into the stratosphere — equal to 10 percent of the amount of water that was already contained in the second layer of Earth’s atmosphere. In the stratosphere, water vapor — like human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide — acts as a greenhouse gas, trapping heat like a blanket around the Earth. But it won’t be clear how much of a role each of those factors played until scientists can test each of those hypotheses. What is clear, scientists stress, is that the year’s extremes were only possible because they unfolded against the backdrop of human-caused climate change. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hit a record high of 419 parts per million in 2023, Copernicus said. And despite global pledges to cut down on methane — which traps 86 times as much heat as carbon dioxide over a short time scales — levels of that gas also reached new peaks. Only by reaching “net zero” — the point at which people stop adding additional greenhouse to the atmosphere — can humanity reverse Earth’s long-term warming trend, said Paulo Ceppi, a climate scientist at Imperial College London. “That is what the physical science tells us that we need to do,” Ceppi said.

What comes next
Almost half of all days in 2023 were 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer than the preindustrial average for that date, Copernicus said — giving the world a dangerous taste of a climate it had pledged to avoid. At the Paris climate conference in 2015, nations agreed to a stretch goal of “pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C above preindustrial levels.” Three years later, a special report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that staying within this ambitious threshold could avoid many of the most disastrous consequences of warming — but it would require the world to almost halve greenhouse gas emissions in just over a decade. But emissions have continued to rise, and now the world appears poised on the brink of surpassing the Paris target. At least one climate science organization believes the barrier has already been crossed. Berkeley Earth said in December that 2023 is virtually certain to eclipse it, though its estimates of 19th century temperatures are slightly lower than those other climate scientists use. This doesn’t necessarily mean the world has officially surpassed the limit set in the Paris climate agreement in 2015. That benchmark will only be reached when temperatures remain 1.5 degrees Celsius above average over a period of at least 20 years. But scientists are already speculating that the planet could set another average temperature record in 2024. Some also say the latest spike in global temperatures is a sign the rate of climate change has accelerated. Whether or not 2023 surpasses the 1.5 degree limit, the year “has given us a glimpse of what 1.5 may look like,” Buontempo said. He hoped that the latest record allows that reality to set in — and spurs action. “As a society, we have to be better at using this knowledge,” Buontempo added, “because the future will not be like our past.”
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Previously reported – February  2024
World surpasses key warming threshold across an entire year for the first time

    • Scientists on Thursday said the world surpassed a key warming threshold across an entire year for the first time on record.
    • The European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said the global mean temperature for the 12-month period through to January was 1.52 degrees Celsius above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average.
    • “Rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are the only way to stop global temperatures increasing,” Samantha Burgess, deputy director of C3S, said in a statement.

Scientists on Thursday said the world surpassed a key warming threshold across an entire year for the first time on record, calling to slash planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. The European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said the global mean temperature for the 12-month period through to January was 1.52 degrees Celsius above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average, and 0.64 degrees above the 1991-2020 average. The findings do not represent a break of the landmark Paris Agreement, which aims to “limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels” over the long term. But the EU’s climate monitor said the data reinforces the need to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to avoid the worst of what the climate crisis has in store. C3S also confirmed that the first month of 2024 was the warmest January on record, with an average surface temperature of 13.14 degrees Celsius — some 0.7 degrees Celsius above the 1991-2020 average and 0.12 degrees Celsius higher than the previous warmest January, logged in 2020. Each of the seven months prior to January also broke heat records for their respective time of the year. Scientists recently confirmed 2023 as the hottest year on record. “2024 starts with another record-breaking month — not only is it the warmest January on record but we have also just experienced a 12-month period of more than 1.5°C above the pre-industrial reference period,” Samantha Burgess, deputy director of C3S, said in a statement. “Rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are the only way to stop global temperatures increasing.”

‘A rapidly shrinking window’
The data comes after repeated warnings that the world remains “massively off track” to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold is recognized as a crucial long-term target because so-called tipping points become more likely beyond this level. If passed, tipping points can lead to dramatic shifts or potentially irreversible changes to some of Earth’s largest systems. Matt Patterson, a postdoctoral research assistant in atmospheric physics at the University of Oxford, described the findings of C3S as a “significant milestone,” but cautioned that they do not mean the Paris Agreement has failed. “A single year above the 1.5C threshold is not enough to breach the Paris climate agreement as the agreement concerns temperatures averaged over 20 to 30 years,” Patterson said. “However, exceeding 1.5C in one year underlines the rapidly shrinking window of time humanity has to make deep emissions cuts and avoid dangerous climate change.” The U.N. notes that the world has already warmed by around 1.1 degrees Celsius, fueling a series of extreme weather events around the world. Brian Hoskins, chair of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, said the C3S findings were a “stark warning of the urgency for the action that is required to limit climate change at anything like the Paris targets.”
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Previously reported – March  2024
Weirdly Warm Winter Has Climate Fingerprints All Over It, Study Says
Recent heat waves in cities worldwide have the hallmarks of global warming, researchers said. And last month was the hottest February on record.
Winter was weirdly warm for half the world’s population, driven in many places by the burning of fossil fuels, according to an analysis of temperature data from hundreds of locations worldwide. That aligns with the findings published late Wednesday by the European Union’s climate monitoring organization, Copernicus: The world as a whole experienced the hottest February on record, making it the ninth consecutive month of record temperatures. Even more startling, global ocean temperatures in February were at an all-time high for any time of year, according to Copernicus. Taken together, the two sets of figures offer a portrait of an unequivocally warming world that, combined with a natural El Niño weather pattern this year, has made winter unrecognizable in some places. The first analysis, conducted by Climate Central, an independent research group based in New Jersey, found that in several cities in North America, Europe and Asia, not only was winter unusually warm, but climate change played a distinctly recognizable role. Climate Central looked at anomalies in December and January temperature data in 678 cities worldwide and asked: How important are the fingerprints of climate change for these unusual temperatures? That is to say, its researchers tried to isolate the usual variability of the weather from the influence of climate change. “There’s the temperature,” said Andrew Pershing, Climate Central’s vice-president for science, “and then there’s our ability to really detect that climate signal in the data.” Cities in the Midwestern United States jumped out for experiencing an extraordinarily warm winter and for the influence of climate change, which is caused mainly by the burning of coal, oil and other fossil fuels that release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. “Really off the charts,” Dr. Pershing said. “No ice on most of the great lakes. That’s remarkable.” Minneapolis, for instance, was nearly 5.6 degrees Celsius warmer than average between December and February. The fingerprints of climate change could be detected for 33 days, essentially a third of the winter season. Tehran was 4.2 degrees Celsius warmer on average during the same three-month period. The effects of human-made climate change could be detected over 68 days of winter. Milan’s winter average temperature was roughly 2 degrees Celsius higher, but there was a strong climate change signal over 55 days. Elsewhere, even though there were a few significantly hot days, winter average temperatures didn’t vary wildly, and the climate signal was less pronounced. The Climate Central report, also published Wednesday, concluded that 4.8 billion people worldwide “experienced at least one day of temperatures that would be virtually impossible without the influence of carbon pollution.” In some parts of the world, the unusually warm winter weather was overshadowed by other crises, such as war. Several cities in Ukraine were significantly warmer than usual, and there, too, were the fingerprints of climate change. Kyiv, for instance, was nearly 3 degrees Celsius warmer on average this winter, and climate change was seen to have played a role for 33 days. Likewise, in several cities of Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. In the tropical belt, where it’s usually much hotter on average, climate signals are easier to detect, though temperature increases can be smaller. Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur for instance were barely 1 degree Celsius warmer on average. But the effects of climate change could be detected for nearly the entire three-month period. It’s not just individual cities that set records this winter. Globally, February 2024 was the warmest February on record, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service. It was 1.77 degrees Celsius above the average February temperature in the recent preindustrial era from 1850-1900. This is the ninth month in a row to break the temperature record for that respective month. Taken together, the past 12 months have been the hottest 12 consecutive months on record: 1.56 degrees Celsius above the average from 1850-1900. “A year ago, the fact that the global temperature for a particular month would reach 1.5 degrees C above the pre-industrial level would have been considered exceptional,” said Julien Nicolas, a senior scientist at Copernicus, via email. Now, it’s happened repeatedly. This doesn’t mean we have exceeded the international Paris Agreement goal of stopping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial temperature. For that to happen, the planet would need to be 1.5 degrees warmer for several years, long enough to reflect a more permanent change. For now, in the short term, the ocean has been particularly hot. The average global sea-surface temperature in February was the warmest recorded for any month, surpassing the previous record set in August 2023.
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The planet just shattered heat records for the ninth month in a row
Last month was the planet’s hottest February on record, marking the ninth month in a row that global records tumbled, according to new data from Copernicus, the European Union’s climate monitoring service. February was 1.77 degrees Celsius warmer than the average February in pre-industrial times, Copernicus found, and it capped off the hottest 12-month period in recorded history, at 1.56 degrees above pre-industrial levels. It’s yet another grim climate change milestone, as the long-term impacts of human-caused global warming are given a boost by El Niño, a natural climate fluctuation. “February joins the long streak of records of the last few months. As remarkable as this might appear, it is not really surprising as the continuous warming of the climate system inevitably leads to new temperature extremes,” Carlo Buontempo, director of Copernicus, said in a statement. Even in the context of back-to-back months of unprecedented temperatures, February has been extreme. Global temperatures in the first half of the month in particular were “exceptionally high,” according to the analysis. Four consecutive days, from February 8 to 11, were 2 degrees warmer than those same days pre-industrial times. Restricting global heating to well below 2 degrees was a centerpiece of the Paris Agreement that almost every country signed up to in 2015. While scientists are much more concerned with longer-term warming, these temporary breaches are a clear and alarming sign of accelerating heating. Global ocean temperatures were also off the charts last month, hitting 21.06 degrees — the highest average for any month on record, according to the Copernicus data, beating the previous record of 20.98 degrees set in August 2023. Experts have expressed shock at just how hot the oceans have been, especially the North Atlantic, which has set a new daily temperature record every day since March 5 last year, according to Brian McNoldy, a senior research associate at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School. “At times, the records have been broken by margins that are virtually statistically impossible,” McNoldy told CNN. Record ocean heat has significant global impacts. Not only is it dangerous for marine life but it also fuels extreme weather, including scorching heat waves, intense rainfall and ferocious hurricanes. The Copernicus data “tells a familiar story of warming temperatures and shifting patterns of weather,” said Hannah Cloke, a climate scientist and professor at the University of Reading in the UK. It is entirely consistent with what scientists have predicted would happen “as greenhouse gases continue to build up in our thin, life-giving atmosphere,” she told CNN. It provides yet more evidence that the world needs to reduce emissions drastically and immediately, Cloke said. If this evidence is ignored, Cloke added, “our children’s generation, and all those that follow, will be justified in pointing to the people who lived in 2024 and cursing our reckless stupidity.”
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Previously reported – April  2024
Earth sees hottest-ever March, the 10th record-breaking month in a row
The Earth just recorded its hottest March on record, the 10th month in a row to reach that feat, according to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. Fueled by a mix of human-caused warming and the El Niño climate pattern, the all-time monthly highs were observed both in the air and in the ocean’s waters, the Copernicus report said. The heat over the past 12 months has pushed global average temperatures to an unprecedented 1.58 degrees Celsius (2.84 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than preindustrial levels, and the hotter air over the Atlantic Ocean in particular could lead to an especially intense hurricane season, scientists warned. “It should be eye-catching — we are going toward uncharted territory,” said Gillian Galford, the lead of the Vermont Climate Assessment and a professor at the University of Vermont who reviewed the report. “It’s rather unusual we see such an increased temperature over months and seasons.” She added that the warmer waters in the Atlantic in particular can lead to larger storms and a more intense hurricane season. It could also lead, she said, to more storms dumping more water in places like Vermont in the northeastern United States, which saw intense flooding last summer. March’s average surface air temperature of 14.14 degrees Celsius (57.45 degrees Fahrenheit) was .1 degrees (.18 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the previous high set in March 2016. Copernicus found that the Antarctic sea ice extent was 20 percent below average after the planet experienced its warmest winter, defined as December through February. While experts say the 10 consecutive months reflect a broader trend that is likely to continue, they said it doesn’t suggest that every month will be record-breaking indefinitely. “But historic highs will probably continue in the months ahead,” said Samantha Burgess, deputy director of Copernicus. “Seasonal forecasts suggest spring and summer are likely to be warmer than average,” Burgess told The Washington Post. “The reality is unless we change our emissions dramatically, we’ll look back at 2023 and consider it a cool year, 10 to 20 years in the future.” The report comes two months after scientists found Earth’s 12-month average temperature for the first time breached 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, defined as the average temperatures between 1850 and 1900. Climate experts fear that catastrophic changes, like the collapse of critical ocean circulations, could occur should the Earth’s temperatures remain near or above that threshold for multiple years. In the 2016 Paris climate agreement, nations around the world agreed to keep global average temperatures from exceeding 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. The nearly 200 participating countries also agreed to “pursue efforts” to keep the multiyear averages below 1.5 degrees Celsius, which could allow for the survival of coral reefs and less deadly heat waves. But to do so, activists have noted that emissions need to be sharply cut by 2030. It’s unclear exactly what influence El Niño — the warming of the ocean surface in the central and eastern Pacific that tends to lead to warmer weather around the world — had in the record heat. But scientists say that 10 consecutive months of record temperatures suggest human-caused climate change played a role, noting that March’s broken record took place after El Niño peaked. Peter Huybers, a professor of earth and planetary sciences at Harvard University, said the records are not a “huge surprise” given the continued global greenhouse gas emissions. “It’s a bellwether whenever you break a record,” he said. “And we’re seeing those records in spades this year. But we’re exactly where we expected to be given those fundamentals.” He added that the Earth’s natural fluctuation, which results in some warmer years and some cooler years, could mean the streak eventually ends as El Niño weakens and is potentially replaced by La Niña, its opposite. But the long-term trends of unprecedented heat are likely to continue, which Burgess said could make it more difficult to predict how the climate will behave in the future — especially if a “tipping point” is reached. “Then we’ll need a lot more science and data to predict what could happen next,” she said.
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Previously reported – May  2024
A streak of record global heat nears one-year mark
April marked an 11th consecutive month of record global heat, the latest sign that humans are in uncharted climate territory.  But there is reason to predict planetary temperatures could moderate soon, though they would remain far above old normals because of human-caused global warming. “If 2024 continues to follow its expected trajectory, global temperatures will fall out of record territory in the next month or two,” Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist with the payments company Stripe, wrote in a newsletter. For now, the spate of unprecedented global heat continues to be felt around the world. April began with a heat wave across West Africa that was so intense, an analysis determined it would have been “virtually impossible” without the influence of human-caused planetary warming. The month ended with a stretch of record-setting heat across Southeast Asia, with temperatures surging well above 100 degrees and up to 120 degrees in some areas from India to the Philippines. But data suggests a diminishing trend in the margins by which average global temperatures are setting records. Hausfather called it “gobsmackingly bananas” when September set a new monthly average global temperature record by an unprecedented margin of 0.5 degrees Celsius. October set a record by a margin that was nearly as large and marked what was then the hottest 12-month period ever observed. Preliminary data shows last month was 0.1 to 0.2 degrees Celsius warmer than the next-hottest April, a significant margin but relatively closer to past observations. Climate scientists said it could be a sign that the surge of global warmth over the past year is beginning to wane, if only slightly. That is because of the imminent end of a historically strong episode of the planet-warming climate pattern El Niño, which began nearly a year ago. During El Niño, warm waters pool along the equator in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean, releasing heat into the atmosphere and triggering extreme heat waves, droughts and floods around the world. Climate models suggest that a rapid switch to the relative cooling influence of La Niña appears increasingly likely this summer or fall. During La Niña, cooler-than-average surface temperatures dominate the eastern and central equatorial Pacific. That could mean this year approaches but does not quite match the record average global heat observed on an annual basis in 2023, scientists said. Berkeley Earth climate scientist Robert Rohde recently predicted 2024 would end as the warmest or second-warmest year on record. Hausfather said that while the year has so far averaged about 1.7 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, before the influence of humans’ fossil fuel consumption began, it is likely to end about 1.5 degrees above that benchmark. How rapidly global temperatures moderate, if at all, will be key in gauging whether climate change is accelerating, NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt wrote in a Nature column in March. If La Niña develops and the record warmth does not moderate, it could signal that humans have “fundamentally altered” Earth’s climate system, he said.
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North Carolina map shows where state could be underwater from sea level rise
An interactive map shows how parts of North Carolina could be submerged in water as sea levels rise due to the effects of climate change.

  Sea Level Rise Viewer

The state faces particular risks because of its barrier islands, known as the Outer Banks, its extensive coastline and its low elevation. An interactive map shows how parts of North Carolina could be submerged in water as sea levels rise due to the effects of climate change. The state faces particular risks because of its barrier islands, known as the Outer Banks, its extensive coastline and its low elevation. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects that by the year 2100, global sea levels will have risen by between 0.95 and 3.61 feet. However, it notes that a rise of around 6.6 feet “cannot be ruled out.” If sea levels rose by just 3 feet, parts of North Carolina’s barrier islands and coastal areas would be encroached by water, according to projections by the NOAA. If sea levels were to rise to 6 feet, nearly the entire counties of Dare, Hyde and Tyrrell would be submerged. If sea levels were to rise to that level, parts of Wilmington, one the state’s largest cities which is known for its historic downtown riverwalk, would also be affected, according to the map. Some coastal parts of North Carolina are already preparing for rising sea levels. The Outer Banks town of Nags Head has said it is factoring the issue into its zoning code, stormwater and flood and dune protection. The state has also widened its beaches by pumping sand from the ocean onto its shorelines. The rates by which sea levels might rise are at this point imprecise projections and could vary depending on what actions countries take to tackle climate change and slow the melting of ice caps. David Thornalley, a professor of ocean and climate science at University College London, previously noted that 2100 was only one lifespan away, and that significant sea rises “would happen if we didn’t take steps to reduce our GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions.” NOAA oceanographer William Sweet said in a previous email to Newsweek: “NOAA’s Sea Level Rise Viewer is a versatile mapping platform that provides insights on what lies in harm’s way—either from ongoing sea level rise or flooding from full-moon tides to hurricane storm surges. “Due to decades of sea level rise, high tides are drowning wetlands and routinely flooding U.S. coastal communities, disrupting commutes and commerce and requiring extensive upgrades to public works like storm and waste-water systems.”
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Previously reported – June  2024
A year of record global heat has pushed Earth closer to dangerous threshold
Temperatures surpassed the 1.5-degree Celsius warming threshold over the past year, and scientists warn they will again soon.
A streak of record-setting heat that began last summer has now persisted for an entire year across the globe, researchers announced Wednesday, pushing Earth closer to a dangerous threshold that the world’s nations have pledged not to cross. The data released by European climate scientists showed May was the 12th consecutive month during which average global temperatures surpassed all observations since 1850, and probably any extended period for more than 100,000 years. Over the past year, according to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, global temperatures averaged 1.6 degrees Celsius (2.9 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels. Under the landmark 2015 Paris agreement, the world’s leaders pledged to hold Earth’s temperature rise “to well below” 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts “to limit the temperature increase” to 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels, to avert some of the worst effects of global warming. The fact that the planet surpassed 1.5 degrees C for one year does not amount to a permanent shift, but it comes as scientists are warning that it is likely to happen again — within a few years. The World Meteorological Organization said that it is highly likely that, for at least one calendar year in the next five, temperatures will exceed 1.5 degrees C above preindustrial levels once more. This unprecedented stretch of warmth, which has astonished scientists, prompted an urgent call by the United Nations to ban fossil fuel companies from advertising and encourage the public to stop using their products. “For the past year, every turn of the calendar has turned up the heat,” U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said in a special address in New York. “Our planet is trying to tell us something. But we don’t seem to be listening.” Researchers have linked the rise in temperatures to the El Niño climate pattern and decades of global heating from human emissions of greenhouse gases. A decade ago, scientists had estimated that the chances of the planet warming 1.5 degrees C by 2020 were nearly zero. Now, the probability of that happening by 2028 is an estimated 8 in 10.

A year-long surge of record heat
Global temperature records have been broken by significant margins since last June, as a burgeoning El Niño began releasing vast stores of heat from the Pacific Ocean. During the periodic climate pattern, warmer-than-average waters pool along the equator in the central and eastern Pacific, transferring warmth and moisture into the atmosphere and triggering extreme heat waves, floods and droughts around the world. In July, temperatures rose above the 1.5-degree C warming benchmark for an entire month, the first time that had happened. That warming trend then continued largely unabated. Global surface-air temperatures last month averaged 1.5 degrees C higher than the 1850-1900 global average, according to Copernicus. Carlo Buontempo, the Copernicus director, said that as remarkable as the trend is, “this string of hottest months will be remembered as comparatively cold” without action to reverse it. Emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas act to trap heat within the atmosphere, preventing it from escaping into space. A separate study published by a group of 57 scientists on Wednesday found that human activities were responsible for 92 percent of the warming observed in 2023, the planet’s hottest calendar year on record. It said the rate of warming in the past decade is “unprecedented in the instrumental record.” Data on global temperature records come from direct observations from ground sensors dating back nearly two centuries, satellite observations in more recent decades, and evidence from historical records and geologic analyses that go further back in time. While this data may not allow scientists to determine how hot it was on a single day or over a period of months many thousands of years ago, it does give confidence that the planet has not experienced such rapid and sustained warming since the end of the last ice age about 125,000 years ago.

Accelerating predictions of global warming
As warming has surged, projections of Earth’s temperature trajectory have accelerated. The latest version of a periodic report on near-term warming, also released Wednesday, shows it has become nearly a certainty that global temperatures will continue to cross into dangerous territory. At a sustained average of 1.5 degrees C above preindustrial levels, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that weather will become so extreme, many people will struggle to adapt to it. “The difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees could be the difference between extinction and survival for some small island states and coastal communities,” Guterres said. Many climate scientists say that the Paris agreement’s target of no more than 1.5 C is already out of reach, though they stress that a single year above that level of warming does not mean the goal is lost. Scientists now estimate an 86 percent chance that at least one of the next five years also surpasses the record average annual temperature observed across the globe in 2023.

An increasingly dire call to action
Guterres used the data to stress the urgency of climate action ahead of a June meeting in Italy of the Group of Seven — the world’s wealthiest democracies — where matters of war and global trade are expected to take center stage. He repeated past calls for countries to stop investing in new coal power generation, and for developed countries to increase investment in clean energy and extreme weather adaptation, especially in poorer countries that have done the least to contribute to climate change and are feeling some of its worst effects. And Guterres is now demanding that all countries ban advertising from fossil fuel companies and that media and tech companies stop taking those companies’ ad dollars. Several cities and one country have already banned some fossil fuel advertising. Last month, the city council of Edinburgh, Scotland, voted to ban advertisements for fossil fuels as well as ads for SUVs and aviation. Amsterdam similarly has prohibited advertisements of gas-powered cars and airplane trips in the city’s center and subway stations. And after French President Emmanuel Macron asked 150 ordinary citizens to help with climate policymaking, his nation banned advertisements for coal, petroleum and hydrogen made from fossil fuels in 2022, though fossil fuel companies can still sponsor events. “We are playing Russian roulette with our planet,” Guterres said. “We need an exit ramp off the highway to climate hell.”
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  • There’s something happening here

    What it is ain’t exactly clear