The world is heading for ‘catastrophic’ warming

The world is heading for 'catastrophic' warming

© KEYSTONE/AP/Michael Sohn

2020 is indeed the hottest year, tied with 2016, the UN confirmed on Thursday. The world is heading for a “catastrophic increase” in heat this century.

According to a consolidation of five major international databases carried out by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a UN agency, the year 2020 joined 2016 on the highest step of the hottest years in the world, in apotheosis of a decade of record temperatures.

This record warming was achieved despite the cooling caused at the end of the year by the natural oceanic phenomenon that is La Niña. While 2016, it was marked by a strong El Niño episode, a natural oceanic phenomenon that causes a rise in temperatures.

“It is remarkable that the temperatures of 2020 were practically equivalent to those of 2016, when during the latter we witnessed one of the strongest warming attributable to the El Niño phenomenon,” said the Secretary General of OMM, Petteri Taalas. “It is therefore clear that human-induced climate change is now as powerful as the force of nature,” he said.

The La Niña episode which began in late 2020 is expected to continue until the middle of this year. Its effects are usually strongest in the second year of their onset, so it remains to be seen to what extent the cooling induced by La Niña might temporarily dampen the general warming trend.

“Make peace with nature”

According to the WMO, the notable features of the year 2020 are persistent heat and forest fires in Siberia, the small extent of the Arctic sea ice and a record hurricane season in the Atlantic.

The year 2020 ended at 1.25 ° C above the pre-industrial period, “and we are already witnessing unprecedented extreme weather phenomena in all regions and on all continents”, noted the Secretary General of UN, Antonio Guterres. And to warn: “We are heading towards a catastrophic increase in temperature of 3 to 5 degrees during the 21st century”.

“Making peace with nature is the great mission of our century. It must be the absolute priority of everyone, everywhere in the world,” insisted the UN chief. The Paris Agreement aims to keep warming well below + 2 ° C, if possible + 1.5 ° C. According to the WMO, there is at least a one in five chance that this increase will temporarily exceed 1.5 ° C by 2024.


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