UN warns Earth ‘on edge’ after warmest decade on record

Global temperatures “broke” heat records last year, with heat waves sweeping oceans and glaciers suffering record ice loss, the United Nations said on Tuesday, warning 2024 could be even hotter.

The United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) annual State of the Climate Report confirmed preliminary data showing 2023 will be the hottest year on record so far.

The World Meteorological Organization’s weather and climate agency said last year was the “warmest decade on record” and temperatures were expected to be even higher in the future.

Omar Badour, head of WMO climate monitoring, told reporters that “it is very likely that the record of 2023 will be broken again in 2024.”

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres responded to the report, saying it showed “a planet on the edge.”

“The planet is sending out a distress signal,” he said in a video address, noting that “fossil fuel pollution is causing climate chaos” and warning that “change is accelerating.”

The World Meteorological Organization said average near-surface temperatures last year were 1.45 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, very close to the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold that countries agreed to avoid in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

‘Red Alert’

“We have never been so close […] WMO President Celeste Saulo warned that temperatures would fall below the 1.5°C lower limit set by the Paris Agreement.

“I am now on red alert about the climate situation,” she told reporters, lamenting that “2023 is a new record for every climate indicator.”

The organization found that many records were “broken” and that the numbers “gave an ominous new meaning to the term ‘record breaking'”.

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Saulo emphasized that climate change is about more than just temperature.

“What we witness in 2023, particularly the unprecedented ocean warming, glacier retreat and loss of Antarctic sea ice, deserves special attention,” she said.

One particularly worrying finding is that average daily marine heat waves last year swept nearly a third of the world’s oceans.

WMO says that by the end of 2023, more than 90% of the ocean will have experienced heat wave conditions at some point during the year.

The report warns that more frequent and intense marine heatwaves will have “profound negative impacts on marine ecosystems and coral reefs”.

At the same time, it warned that the world’s major glaciers were suffering the worst ice losses since records began in 1950 “due to extreme melting in western North America and Europe”.

In Switzerland, where the World Meteorological Organization is headquartered, mountain glaciers have lost 10% of their remaining volume in the past two years alone, the report said.

The World Meteorological Organization said Antarctic sea ice extent was also “the lowest ever recorded”.

Sea-level rise

In fact, it noted that the maximum area at the end of the southern winter was about 1 million square kilometers smaller than the previous record year, equivalent to the area of ​​France and Germany combined.

Warming oceans and rapid melting of glaciers and ice caps also caused sea levels last year to reach their highest point since satellite records began in 1993, the World Meteorological Organization said.

The agency highlighted that the rate of global average sea level rise over the past decade (2014-2023) was more than twice as high as in the first decade of satellite records.

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The report emphasizes that dramatic climate change is causing significant losses around the world, fueling extreme weather events, floods and droughts, triggering displacement, and exacerbating biodiversity loss and food insecurity.

“The climate crisis is the defining challenge facing humanity and is closely linked to the crisis of inequality,” Solow said.

“A glimmer of hope”

WMO noted that the number of people considered severely food insecure globally has more than doubled, from 149 million before the Covid-19 pandemic to 333 million by the end of 2023.

However, the group did highlight one “silver lining”: a surge in renewable energy generation.

Renewable energy power generation (mainly from solar, wind and hydropower) increased by nearly 50% last year compared with 2022, the report said.

Guterres also stressed that there is still time to avoid a long-term crisis.

He insisted the world still had a chance to keep the planet’s long-term temperature rise below the 1.5°C threshold and “avoid the worst climate chaos”.

“We know what to do. “

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By Ali Raza

I am a dedicated and skilled News Content Writer with a passion for delivering accurate and engaging stories to a diverse audience. With a solid background in journalism and a keen eye for detail, I bring a commitment to excellence and a deep understanding of the evolving media landscape.

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