In a stark revelation, Earth’s temperature has surged beyond a critical threshold, sounding alarm bells for scientists who have long warned of catastrophic and irreversible consequences for the planet and its ecosystems.
The concerning data, unveiled by prominent climate scientist Samantha Burgess, deputy director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service based in Europe, indicates that global average temperatures on Friday last week surpassed pre-industrial levels by a staggering 2 degrees Celsius.
This unprecedented temperature rise signifies a relentless trend towards a long-term climate crisis, with potentially irreversible effects on the planet. The recorded global temperatures on that day were 6.2 degrees above the 1850-1900 (pre-industrial) baseline.
Samantha Burgess emphasized that November 17 marked the warmest day on record, with global temperatures averaging 1.17 degrees above the 1991-2020 levels. Comparatively, when measured against pre-industrial times, before widespread human interference altered the Earth’s natural climate, temperatures were 2.06 degrees warmer.
With just two weeks remaining until the Climate Change conference in Dubai, this unsettling development underscores the urgency to address the environmental crisis. The conference is slated to assess progress on the Paris Climate Agreement and explore the feasibility of limiting global warming to two degrees above pre-industrial levels, with an ideal target of 1.5 degrees.
Burgess cautioned that a single day exceeding the 2-degree threshold doesn’t necessarily violate the Paris Agreement but serves as a stark reminder of the challenges in meeting the agreed-upon limits. She further anticipates a growing number of days surpassing the 1.5 and 2-degree marks in the coming months and years.
The planet is on a trajectory to breach the 1.5-degree warming threshold in the next few years, according to experts. A UN report published recently indicates that even if countries fulfill their current emission reduction commitments, the world is expected to experience a temperature increase of 2.5 to 2.9 degrees this century.
Despite 1.5 degrees not being a definitive “cliff edge,” every fraction of a degree matters. Warming by 2 degrees heightens the risk of deadly extreme weather events and accelerates the likelihood of irreversible tipping points, such as polar ice sheet collapses and widespread coral reef die-offs.
Richard Allen, a climate science professor at the University of Reading in the UK, stressed the urgency of addressing greenhouse gas emissions. While the breach of the 2-degree target was anticipated, it underscores the pressing need for immediate action.
This revelation comes on the heels of the hottest 12 months on record and a year marred by climate crises, including fires in Hawaii, floods in North Africa, and storms in the Mediterranean, claiming numerous lives.
Recent reports examining Earth’s climate health and human responses paint a grim picture, indicating insufficient efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change. A UN report from last week highlighted that global warming emissions in 2030 are projected to be 9 percent higher than in 2010 based on current climate plans. Another UN report revealed that countries plan to exceed the fossil fuel production cap necessary to limit global warming, with a production target more than double what is required to keep the increase below 1.5 degrees by 2030.