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WMO Predicts Extreme Heat, Provides Advice on How to Avoid It
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WMO Predicts Extreme Heat, Provides Advice on How to Avoid It

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CALIFORNIA - February 7, 2019

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed the fears of many world experts that temperatures will reach their highest levels. 2018 was the fourth hot year, if we don't take into account the preceding five-year period, which represents the hottest since modern measurements.

The world in 2018 was 0.83 degrees warmer than the average between 1951 and 1980, notes NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This means that average global temperatures in 2018 were the fourth highest since 1880, falling behind 2016, 2017 and 2015.

NASA

"Temperatures are only part of the story. Extreme and high impact weather affected many countries and millions of people, with devastating repercussions for economies and ecosystems in 2018," WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said.

This follows a broader model of anthropogenic climate change that intensifies increasingly severe heat waves, sea-level rise, and extreme weather conditions.

This was confirmed by anomalous climatic events in California, Greece and Sweden, where wildfires covered most of the territory, South Africa suffered drought, catastrophic floods were the state of Kerala, India.

Several typhoons were recorded in the Philippines. In the Arctic, where the second warmest year was recorded, there were high temperatures that surprise scientists around the world.

In addition, there were record levels of human-induced carbon emissions.

This year, Met Office climate scientists expect to see one of the largest rises in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration in 62 years of measurements, the report also said. The Met Office CO₂ forecast is based on a combination of factors including rising anthropogenic emissions and a relative reduction in the uptake of carbon-dioxide by ecosystems due to tropical climate variability.

The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO₂ was 3-5 million years ago when the temperature was 2-3°C warmer and sea level was 10-20 meters higher than now.

"Many of the extreme weather events are consistent with what we expect from a changing climate. This is a reality we need to face up to. Greenhouse gas emission reduction and climate adaptation measures should be a top global priority," Taalas added.

The average global surface temperature was 1° above pre-industrial time in 2018, WMO reported.

"The long-term temperature trend is far more important than the ranking of individual years, and that trend is an upward one," Taalas said.

WMO

The British Met Office, which contributes data to the WMO, warned temperatures could rise by 1.5°, for instance, if a natural El Niño weather event adds a burst of heat.

"Over the next five years there is a one in 10 chance of one of those years breaking the 1.5°]threshold," Prof Adam Scaife of the Met Office told Reuters. "That is not saying the Paris Agreement [which seeks to keep temperature rise well below 2° is done for ... but it's a worrying sign."

In addition, the WMO confirmed the world is now on track for a temperature rise of 3° or more by 2100.

Earlier, for the first time in its history, the WMO addressed the UN Security Council on the risks to international peace and security posed by climate change and climate-related disasters.

The UN Security Council ministerial debate, under the presidency of the Dominican Republic, comes one day after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the World Economic Forum in Davos that "climate change is running faster than we are."

"I believe we are losing the race," said Guterres. "The reality is proving to be worse than scientists had foreseen, and all the last indicators show that."

Climate change, according to scientists, has implications in particular in the areas of nutrition and access to food.

" ... Heightening the risk of wildfires and exacerbating air quality challenges; increasing the potential for conflict over water; leading to more internal displacement and migration," WMO chief scientist and research director, Pavel Kabat told the Security Council.

Due to the drastic climate changes, scientists and climate justice campaigners openly state that people should change their attitude to the environment.

In particular, for example Mary Robinson, a well-known activist in her field says that she changed her life regime in favor of the environment. She has wholly renounced meat in favor of fish. She also had many other ways in which she thought people could engage in climate activities, such as reducing waste or recycling.

"Having done your bit, "she said, "get angry" at the transformational policies to combat climate change from businesses, governments and other sectors such as agriculture.

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In an address after she was presented with the Emily Winifred Dickson Award by Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, the former president said the third step she favoured was imagining what a world of clean energy, "a healthy world" with no fossil fuels, would look like in coming decades. The other vital ingredient, she believed, was hope as "it creates energy and doing."

Speaking about carbon tax increases -- which the government is considering -- she said it was "really important that the tax be seen to be fair." Moving to a decarbonised world required a just transition, Robinson added, noting the poor were more reliant on solid fuels.

The rise in diesel tax which sparked the Yellow Vest protests in France, was a case of "the right thing to do but done in the wrong way," she said, as the tax hit those with low incomes and those driving for a living hardest.

Speaking on climate justice and a healthy environment, she said, a High Court 2018 decision, which recognised first a constitutional right to environmental protection consistent with the human dignity and well-being of citizens "moved the agenda significantly."

However, the lack of a clear textual basis to the decision could lead to legal uncertainty, "and may encourage citizens to turn to the courts to effect change rather than the political system."

She noted the latest Lancet Countdown report had warned that older people in mainland Europe were more vulnerable to heatwaves compared with those in Africa. The report also warned of increased disease, such as a higher incidence of Lyme disease in Ireland. It had concluded climate justice was "a medical disaster," but it also highlighted that a comprehensive response "could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century."

Emily Winifred Dickson became the first female fellow of RCSI in 1893, making her the first female fellow of any of the surgical royal colleges in Britain and Ireland.

RCSI Chief Executive Prof Cathal Kelly said Robinson's work, particularly as UN high commissioner for human rights and through the Mary Robinson Foundation-Climate Justice, "has made an impact globally for those who are marginalised across the world."

President Trump, who has pulled the US out of the Paris pact, did not mention climate change in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday.

Author: USA Really