Planet ‘On The Brink’, With New Heat Records Likely In 2024 – UN

Global temperatures “smashed” heat records last year, with heatwaves stalking oceans and glaciers losing record ice, the United Nations said Tuesday, predicting that 2024 will be even hotter.

The UN Weather and Climate Agency’s annual State of the Climate report verified preliminary data indicating that 2023 was by far the hottest year on record.

According to the World Meteorological Organization, last year marked the end of “the warmest 10-year period on record,” with much higher temperatures forecast.

“There is a high probability that 2024 will again break the record set in 2023,” WMO climate monitoring chief Omar Baddour told reporters.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reacted to the news, saying it showed “a planet on the brink.”

“Earth’s issuing a distress call,” he said in a video message, noting that “fossil fuel pollution is sending climate chaos off the charts” and warned that “changes are speeding up”.

According to the World Meteorological Organization, the average near-surface temperature was 1.45 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels last year, dangerously close to the key 1.5-degree threshold that countries vowed to avoid in the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

‘Red alert’

“I am now sounding the red alert about the state of the climate,” Saulo told reporters, lamenting that “2023 set new records for every single climate indicator”.

The organisation said many of the records were “smashed” and that the numbers “gave ominous new significance to the phrase ‘off the charts’.”

“What we witnessed in 2023, especially with the unprecedented ocean warmth, glacier retreat and Antarctic sea ice loss, is cause for particular concern,” Saulo said.

One particularly concerning discovery was that marine heatwaves affected roughly a third of the worldwide ocean on an average day last year.

According to the World Meteorological Organization, by the end of 2023, more than 90 percent of the ocean would have experienced heatwave conditions at least once.

More frequent and intense marine heatwaves will have “significant negative consequences for marine ecosystems and coral reefs,” the report warned.

Meanwhile, important glaciers throughout the world lost the most ice since records began in 1950, “driven by extreme melt in both western North America and Europe”.

Alpine glaciers in Switzerland, where the WMO is situated, have lost 10% of their remaining volume in just the last two years, according to the organization.

The WMO also stated that the Antarctic sea ice extent was “by far the lowest on record”.

Rising sea levels

According to the data, the greatest area at the end of the southern winter was around one million square kilometers less than the previous record year, which is similar to the combined size of France and Germany.

According to the World Meteorological Organization, ocean warming and fast melting glaciers and ice sheets propelled sea levels to their highest height since satellite measurements began in 1993.

The organization stated that the worldwide mean sea level rise over the last decade (2014-2023) was more than double that of the first decade of satellite observations.

It stated that major climate alterations are having a significant global impact, fueling extreme weather events, flooding, and drought, which cause displacement and exacerbate biodiversity loss and food insecurity.

“The climate crisis is THE defining challenge that humanity faces and is closely intertwined with the inequality crisis,” he stated.

‘Glimmer of hope’

The WMO did note one “glimmer of hope”: increased renewable energy production.

Renewable energy generation capacity climbed by about 50% last year compared to 2022, according to the report.

The report triggered a flurry of responses and requests for immediate action.

“Our only response must be to stop burning fossil fuels so that the damage can be limited,” said Martin Siegert, a University of Exeter geosciences professor.

According to Jeffrey Kargel, a prominent scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, the catastrophic climate alterations “do not connote the inevitable doom of civilisation”.

The outcome, he stated, “depends on how people and governments change or do not change their behavior.”

Saulo admitted that the cost of climate action may appear enormous.

“But the cost of climate inaction is much higher,” she said. “The worst thing would be to do nothing.”

Guterres also emphasised that there was still time to “avoid the worst of climate chaos”.

“But leaders must step up and act — now.”

Leave a Reply