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Climate change: the warmest 7 years on record

New data shows that the past seven years have been the warmest seven years on record on the planet, as Earth’s temperature continues to soar due to fossil fuel emissions that trap heat.

A new analysis by the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, which tracks global temperatures and other climate indicators, shows that 2021 will be the warmest year on record.

Although the long-term trend is up, annual fluctuations in global temperatures are expected, mainly due to large-scale ocean and weather patterns such as El Niño and La Niña, then emerge in 2021 and tend to lead to colder global temperatures.

“It’s really important not to hang on to a particular year’s charts but to see the bigger picture of increasingly warmer temperatures, and that getting warmer doesn’t mean every year will be the same. warmer next year,” said Freja Vamborg, senior scientist at Copernicus. “But that’s what we’ve seen so far with each decade being warmer than the next – and this is likely to continue.”

Earth’s average temperature is about 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial average, Copernicus reports, 73% of the way to 1.5 degrees threshold, scientists warn planet must stay in low temperature to avoid the worst effects.

Kim Cobb, Director of the Global Change Program at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said a warming of 1.1 degrees Celsius is a “conservative” estimate.

Cobb, who was not involved with the report, told CNN: “It’s very fair to say that 1.1 degrees Celsius is moderate, because the second half of the last decade was warmer than the first half.”

Even at 1.1 degrees Celsius, in 2021, the world is still clearly feeling the unprecedented effects of the climate crisis for which many are unprepared, including significant thaw events. in the Arctic, deadly floods, unprecedented heat waves and historic droughts. Copernicus also finds that global concentrations of greenhouse gases – the root cause of the climate crisis and its growing disasters – continue to rise.

In 2015, world leaders agreed to heed scientists’ warnings and limit Earth’s rapid temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with The priority target is 1.5 degrees.

That threshold may not sound like much, but NASA scientists say it is similar to how a 1 or 2 degree increase in body temperature can lead to a fever. With every fraction of the degree of warming, the disease worsens with an increasing likelihood of hospitalization.

As for the planet, scientists are tracking an increase in Earth’s temperature from baseline at the start of the Industrial Revolution in the mid to late 19th century, as humans increased the burning of fossil fuels. fossil fuels such as coal and oil.

For every increase in future warming, the latest climate research outlines cascade consequences that could threaten every facet and necessity on Earth including biodiversity, Cobb said. fresh water and food supplies.

“We’ve just crossed the 1-degree threshold for warming, but we’re reeling from a near-constant series of extreme weather and climates,” Cobb told CNN. “With rare exceptions, these extreme events can now be firmly linked to anthropogenic warming. Going forward, we should expect frequency and severity of such extreme phenomena will increase, causing great damage to societies around the world.”

2021 brings heatwaves and floods that have turned into mass casualty events; rain falls on the top of Greenland for the first time; and a historic drought that affected much of the western United States and caused massive, destructive wildfires and unprecedented water shortages.

Almost everywhere in the world is feeling the effects of the rapidly warming planet. The Copernicus researchers identified a number of regions with above-average maximum temperatures in 2021, stretching from the western United States and Canada to Greenland, as well as large swaths of central and northern Africa and central Winter.

The agency reports that last year’s European summer was the warmest on record, with a number of extreme weather events wreaking havoc across the continent, including deadly floods in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands as well as Wildfires raging in the eastern and central Mediterranean.

In North America, the analysis uncovered periods of time when temperatures were strikingly different from the norm, including intense heatwaves in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. It also documented the widespread effects of the Dixie Fire – the second-largest wildfire ever recorded in California – emitting harmful fumes across the continent.

As the symptoms of a feverish planet worsen, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded in August the only way to stop the alarming trend is to cut back. deepening greenhouse gas emissions, while removing the planet-warming gases that humans have introduced. ozone.

In November, the Climate Action Watch warned the world was on track for a warming of 2.4 degrees, if not more – despite new and updated climate pledges by the United States. countries, including those made at the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow.

Experts warn that global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 will still be twice as high as needed to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. Worse yet, under current policies – not proposals, but what countries are actually doing right now – climate trackers project global temperatures to climb to 2.7 dire degrees Celsius.

At that point, the planet will be in peril. The Copernicus report shows that carbon emissions continue to trend upward into 2021, despite a global pandemic. Emissions from methane, a greenhouse gas about 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the short term, continue to increase “very significantly.”

Vamborg stressed the report serves as a reminder that increased greenhouse gas emissions are driving the planet’s rapid warming, adding that “the global temperature curve will continue to move. up as we continue to emit greenhouse gases.”

Cobb says humanity’s reward for stopping the planet from passing 1.5 degrees is more than enough to induce bold and collective action. Option to limit fossil fuel emissions to a level that could “potentially cool the planet in the second half of this century.”

“The idea that we might live to see a reversal of global warming is inspiring, as generations have seen warming decade after decade,” Cobb said. another century. “It’s a future worth fighting for and giving life to, one energy choice at a time.”

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