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Five-year period ending 2019 set to be hottest on record

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A damning new UN report published Sunday said the world is falling badly behind in the race to avert climate disaster as a result of runaway warming, with the five-year period ending 2019 set to be the hottest ever.

It comes ahead of a major UN climate summit Monday that will be attended by more than 60 world leaders, as Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pushes for countries to increase their greenhouse gas reduction targets.

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The report “highlights the urgent need for the development of concrete actions that halt global warming and the worst effects of climate change,” said its authors, the Science Advisory Group to the summit.

Average global temperature between 2015-2019 is on track to be the hottest of any five-year period on record, according to the report, which was compiled by the World Meteorological Organization.

The period “is currently estimated to be 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial (1850-1900) times and 0.2 degrees Celsius warmer than 2011-2015,” it said.

The past four years were already the hottest since record-keeping began in 1850.

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Guterres said last week the world was “losing the race” on climate change, with the latest report spelling out the extent to which the gap between what is required and what is happening is widening.

Rather than falling, carbon dioxide grew two percent in 2018, reaching a record high of 37 billion tonnes.

More importantly, there is also no sign yet of reaching what is known as “peak emissions,” the point at which levels will start to fall, though these are not growing at the same rate as the global economy.

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The 2015 Paris Agreement saw countries lay out national targets to reduce their emissions in order to limit long term temperature rise by either 2 degrees Celsius or 1.5 degrees Celsius.

These are benchmarks that will limit in important ways the impact of warming on world weather systems.

But even if all countries meet the goals they set themselves, the world will warm by 2.9 degrees Celsius to 3.4 degrees Celsius, the report found.

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The current levels of ambition would need to be tripled to meet the 2 degrees Celsius goal and increased five-fold to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal — technically still possible.

“This reads like a credit card statement after a 5-year long spending binge,” said Professor Dave Reay, chair in Carbon Management at the University of Edinburgh.

“Our global carbon credit is maxed out,” he added. “If emissions don’t start falling there will be hell to pay.”

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– Deadly Heatwaves –

In 2018, global carbon dioxide was 407.8 parts per million (ppm), 2.2 ppm higher than 2017 and set to reach or exceed 410 ppm by 2019.

“The last time Earth’s atmosphere contained 400 parts per million CO 2 was about 3-5 million years ago,” the report said.

At that time, global mean surface temperatures were 2-3 degrees Celsius warmer, ice sheets at both poles had melted, and seas were 10 to 20 meters higher.

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Other major takeaways include that the extent of Arctic summer sea ice has declined at a rate of 12 percent per decade over the past 40 years, with the four lowest values between 2015 and 2019.

Overall, the amount of ice lost from the Antarctic ice sheet increased by a factor of six each year between 1979 and 2017, while glacier loss for 2015-19 is also the highest for any five-year period on record.

Sea-level rise is also accelerating as is the process of acidification, with an increase in 26 percent in acidity today compared to pre-industrial periods, as a result of absorbing increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The report also found that heatwaves were the deadliest weather hazard in the 2015-19 period, affecting all continents and setting new national temperature records.

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The summer of 2019, which included the hottest ever month on record (July), saw unprecedented wildfires in the Arctic.

In June, these were responsible for emitting 50 megatons of carbon dioxide.

The report also comes at a time of increasing mobilization over the question of climate change, with millions taking part in a youth-led global strike Friday, before the first UN youth climate summit on Saturday.


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In extreme crises, conservatism can turn to fascism. Here’s how that might play out

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5 movie "Back to the Future," Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox) travels in a time machine from the 1980s to the 1950s. When he tells people of the '50s he is from the '80s, he is met with skepticism.

1950s person: Then tell me, future boy, who's President of the United States in 1985?

This article first appeared at Salon.com.Marty McFly: Ronald Reagan.

1950s person: Ronald Reagan? The actor? [chuckles in disbelief] Then who's vice president? Jerry Lewis [comedian]?

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Who are the young people behind the Catalonia protest violence?

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The violent protests that have swept Catalonia over the jailing of nine separatist leaders have involved veteran anarchists and youthful troublemakers as well as outraged separatists, some of whom became radicalised only recently.

"I am 24, have a masters and a job and I never imagined myself setting fire to a barricade with my face masked," said one protester who gave her name only as Aida.

She has joined in protests every day since they erupted in the region after Spain's Supreme Court on Monday sentenced nine Catalan separatist leaders to up to 13 years in jail for sedition over a failed 2017 independence bid.

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Body language expert dissects the power dynamic at play in the iconic Nancy Pelosi photo

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Last week, President Donald Trump met with Democrats at the White House to discuss the way both sides could work to fix the President's mistakes in Syria. Democrats left the White House saying that the President had another meltdown during the meeting, which prompted Trump to claim Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was the one who had a meltdown. He then posted photos of Pelosi sitting quietly and another photo of Pelosi standing and pointing at him.

Body language expert Dr. Jack Brown posted the photo and gave his own analysis of what he believed was happening in the photo.

"When a person has little or no empathy — and/or when they're far from their emotional baseline, their ability to interpret how others will view an event becomes dramatically distorted," Brown explained Sunday. "Rarely has this behavioral axiom been better exemplified than last Wednesday at the White House."

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