2016 is shaping up to be the hottest year in recorded history, breaking the previous records set by 2015 and 2014. This means 16 of the 17 hottest years on record will have occurred this century.
The impacts of climate change are being felt now more than ever, with extreme temperatures around the world, followed by the extreme weather they produce.
A report published on Monday by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) found 2016’s global temperature is 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The recent Paris Climate Agreement, involving most of the world’s countries, promised to limit a global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, leaving dangerously little room.
According to Scientists, the El Nino weather phenomenon contributed to 2016’s drastically high temperature, but the greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans still remains the most significant contributor.
“Another year. Another record,” said Petteri Taalas, secretary-general of the WMO. “The extra heat from the powerful El Nino event has disappeared. The heat from global warming will continue.”
“Because of climate change, the occurrence and impact of extreme events has risen,” he continued. “‘Once in a generation’ heatwaves and flooding are becoming more regular.”
The WMO says human contribution to climate change has contributed to at least half of the extreme weather events of recent years.
“It is almost as if mother nature is making a statement,” said climate scientists Michael Mann at Penn State University.” Just as one of the plant’s two largest emitters of Carbon has elected a climate change denier [U.S. President 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.”
“Climate change is not like other issues that can be postponed from one year to the next,” he said. “The U.S. and the world are already behind; speed is of the essence, because climate change and its impacts are coming sooner and with greater ferocity than anticipated.”
The record-smashing heat was felt around the world. Pretoria in South Africa recorded a new high of 42.7C, Mitribah in Kuwait recorded 54.0C, and even parts of Arctic Russia recorded average temperatures 6-7C above expectations.
Over 60 million people have been affected by extreme weather damaging farming and food, reports the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
2017 is set to be another blistering year, but will likely not break any records.
“As the El Nino wanes, we don’t anticipate that 2017 will be another record-breaking year,” said Dr. Peter Stott at the UK’s Met Office, which handles weather and climate change. “But 2017 is likely warmer than any year prior to the last two decades because of the underlying extent of [human-caused] warming due to the increasing atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases.”
However there is some good news. Another recent analysis found that carbon emissions have been barely growing the last three years, mainly because China is burning significantly less coal.
“This third year of almost no growth in emissions is unprecedented at a time of strong economic growth,” said Professor Corinne Le Quéré, at University of East Anglia in the UK, who led the analysis.
“This is a great help for tackling climate change, but it is not enough. Global emissions now need to decrease rapidly, not just stop growing.”