According to data published by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the UN, 2016 will be the hottest year on record. We’ve reached 1.2C above pre-industrial levels and it’s the third year in a row a record is set.
I truly hope humanity can create a sustainable future for ourselves and the other inhabitants of the planet. But every time we write a This [month] is the warmest [month] on record article, a part of my hopes withers away.
“Another year. Another record,” said WMO secretary-general, Petteri Taalas. “The extra heat from the powerful El Niño event has disappeared. The heat from global warming will continue.”
“Because of climate change, the occurrence and impact of extreme events has risen,” he said. “‘Once in a generation’ heatwaves and flooding are becoming more regular.”
Greenhouse gas emissions are fueling global warming at an alarming rate — we’ve already went 1.2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels, dangerously close to the optimistic 1.5C goal set in Paris. If we continue in this trend, even the 2C objective will be surpassed with ease.
As Taalas says, we’re already seeing these effects. According to the WMO, at least half the extreme weather events studied in recent years were related to man-caused climate change. In some cases, the chance of heat waves had increased by 1000%. It’s almost as if nature is reacting to what we’re doing.
“It is almost as if mother nature is making a statement,” said climate scientist Michael Mann, at Penn State University in the US. “Just as one of the planet’s two largest emitters of carbon has elected a climate change denier [Donald Trump] – who has threatened to pull out of the Paris accord – to the highest office, she reminds us that she has the final word.”
Glimmers of hope