World Meteorological Organization warns on the catastrophic climate change as time is really short to combat the climate change. We are facing consecutive four warmest years on the record starting from 2015. 2018 is the 4th warmest year but probably the coolest of the four in the series of 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. Surprisingly, 20 warmest years occurred within the last 22 years. If the current trend continues, global warming could hit 3C to 5C by the century end.
Elena Manaenkova, the WMO Deputy Secretary-General says not to take 2C or 3C just as numbers as a fraction of a degree of change of global temperature would mean the extinction of animals and plants, dying marine life and coral reefs, ill effects on human health and unavailability of food and clean water.
Provisional statement on the State of the Climate in 2018 stated that from January’18-October’18, the global mean temperature was 0.98±0.12°C above the pre-industrial baseline (1850-1900). The weak La Niña condition found at the beginning of the year 2018 until March is essentially related to lower global temperature. However, in the month of October, the return of El Niño conditions again increases the chances of temperatures to rise, and if it further develops, the temperature of 2019 will cross the temperature of 2018.
As per the IPCC special report (IPCC SR15), the average global temperature was 0.87°C above the pre-industrial baseline for 2006-2015. Above the same baseline, the average increase for 2009-2018 was 0.93±0.07°C, and for the last five years, i.e., 2014-2018, it was 1.04±0.09°C. There was the effect of strong El Niño of 2015-2016 during these periods.
UN Environment Programme (UNEP) set the target of restricting the global temperature below 2C and a more ambitious 1.5C. However, UN Environment Emissions Gap Report 2018 discloses that efforts on the part of the government are insufficient to meet the target despite national pledges taken at the Paris Agreement 2015. UN report hammers that world must triple emission reduction efforts to keep the global temperature below 2C and for ambitious 1.5C, efforts need to be put five times more.
The key driver of climate change is increasing Greenhouse gas emissions due to human activities and uptake by oceans and biosphere. The new highs of greenhouse gas concentrations got recorded in 2017 and from the real data of specific locations, levels of CO2, CH4, and N2O found to continue to rise in 2018.
- Tropical Storms: Active tropical cyclone season in the Northern Hemisphere (NH).
- Floods, extreme rainfall and extra-tropical storms: Major flooding in the southwest Indian state of Kerala.
- Heatwaves and Drought: Exceptional heat and drought in large parts of Europe.
- Cold and Snow: Most significant cold outbreaks in Europe.
- Severe Storms: The season of severe weather in the United States.
- Wildfires: Major wildfires in Athens (Greece), northern California and northeast of San Francisco.
- The extent of Arctic sea ice remained below the average with record-low levels at the beginning of 2018. The March month extent was the third lowest followed by September extent which was the sixth lowest on record.
Head of the delegation, Greenpeace at the UN climate change conference (COP24) in Poland, Jens Mattias Clausen said that there is enough evidence of climate change like record-low Arctic sea ice, record-high heatwaves, deadly wildfires, above average tropical cyclones and these are an alarm bell which is not possible to ignore. The meteorological report clearly stated that we are in the middle of the climate crisis. It’s not about the future; our present is at risk.
We still have the chance. UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) declared a time-period of 12 years to reduce the emissions drastically. However, as Elena Manaenkova of WMO said, now every bit matters. If we genuinely move now, we can still do something about it.