Climate woes are bad and get worse faster

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) — The Earth’s global warming and rising seas are getting worse and faster than before, the World Meteorological Organization warned Sunday in a grim note as world leaders were beginning to come together for the international climate negotiations.

“The latest report on the state of the world’s climate is a chronicle of climate chaos,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “We must respond to the planet’s distress signal with action – ambitious and credible climate action.”

In its annual report on the state of the climate, the United Nations weather agency said sea level rise over the past decade was double what it was in the 1990s and since. January 2020, it surged at a higher rate than that. Since the start of the decade, the sea has risen by 5 millimeters (0.2 inches) per year compared to 2.1 millimeters (0.08 inches) in the 1990s.

The past eight years have been the warmest on record, the WMO said in a report that did not break new ground, but was a collection of recent weather trends, data and impacts in one central location.

“We’ve lost the melting (ice) game as well as the sea level rate,” WMO chief Petteri Taalas told The Associated Press. “There are no positive indicators so far.”

The only reason the globe hasn’t broken annual temperature records in recent years is a rare three-year weather phenomenon, La Niña, he said.

Data on sea levels and average temperatures are nothing compared to how climate change has hit people in extreme weather conditions. Report highlights Pakistan’s incredible summer flood that killed more than 1,700 people and displaced 7.9 million, a crippling four-year drought in East Africa that killed more than 18 million of starving people, the Yangtze River drying up to its lowest level in August, and record-breaking heatwaves roasting people in Europe and China.

“This latest report from the World Meteorological Organization reads like a lab report for a critically ill patient, but in this case the patient is Earth,” said climatologist Jennifer Francis of the Woodwell Climate Research Center on Cape Cod, who was not part of it. of the report.

Levels of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have all reached record highs, with the mighty methane rising at a record rate, the report said.

This means more than just warming temperatures on earth. The ice, both the Greenland ice sheet and the world’s glaciers, is shrinking precipitously, according to the report. For the 26th consecutive year, Greenland has lost ice when all ice types are considered. The volume of snow from glaciers in Switzerland fell by more than a third between 2001 and 2022, according to the report.

But 90% of the heat trapped on Earth goes into the ocean, and the upper 2,000 meters (6,561 feet) of the ocean are warming faster. The rate of warming over the past 15 years is 67% faster than since 1971, the report said.

This ocean heat “will continue to warm in the future – an irreversible change on timescales of centuries to millennia,” the report said.

Outside experts weren’t surprised by the report and said no one should be.

“What climate scientists have been warning about for decades is upon us. And will continue to get worse without action,’ said Marshall Shepherd, professor of meteorology at the University of Georgia. “Two things must go: climate backwardness and talking about the impacts of climate change in the future. It’s here.”

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Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears

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