The year may not be up yet, but scientists are already saying that 2017 will be among the three hottest years on record.
Does this sound familiar to you? Possibly. Last year, NASA and the NOAA announced that 2016 was the hottest year since 1880, with the first half of the year breaking temperature records. And the year before that--2015--was also declared by NASA and the NOAA to be the hottest year on record. The same agencies said the same thing about 2014. While 2017 may not be the hottest year on record, merely the second or third, it still doesn’t bode well for the climate.
According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), temperatures from January to September of this year weren’t higher than temperatures in 2016, though not higher than temperatures in 2015. The WMO also said that temperatures in January to September 2017 were also 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
2017 is set to be one of the hottest years, though it hasn't even had an El Niño.
“The past three years have all been in the top three years in terms of temperature records,” said Petteri Taalas, secretary-general of the WMO. “This is part of a long term warming trend.”
2016 remains the hottest year on record--for now, at least--because of the occurrence of a powerful El Niño. However, 2017 is the hottest year that hasn’t had an El Niño. So far, the five-period between 2013 to 2017 is also considered by the WMO to be the warmest five-year period since 1880. Though more studies on rising global temperatures are set to be carried out, Taalas says that we can already tell the signs of the anthropogenic causes of rising global temperatures. This steady warming of the planet gives further evidence that human activities, such as deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels, cause climate change.
The WMO’s findings disprove claims climate skeptics that climate change has somehow “paused”. This means that the planet’s temperatures have been rising steadily, and that acting on climate change sooner rather than later is crucial.
Though many governments around the world have pledged to cut significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, scientists say that these pledges still aren’t enough. Presently, these pledges might result in a planet that’s three degrees celsius warmer than preindustrial levels by the end of the century.
Climate change and rising temperatures have something to do with this year's record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season.
Scientists say that the amount of emissions cuts pledged by governments aren’t enough to ensure that global temperatures won’t rise to dangerous levels. The goal is to keep the rise of temperatures to two degrees Celsius or less, and any higher than that can likely be catastrophic. Already we’re seeing the effects of rising temperatures, like extreme and unpredictable weather events, which can be destructive and affect thousands of lives.
“We have witnessed extraordinary weather, including temperatures topping 50 degrees Celsius [122 degrees F] in Asia, record-breaking hurricanes in rapid succession in the Caribbean and Atlantic reaching as far as Ireland, devastating monsoon flooding affecting many millions of people and a relentless drought in East Africa” Taalas said. While these are undoubtedly harrowing and worrying, if you’ve been up to date on climate news, they’re not really surprising.
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