Quantcast

The Last Four Years Were Likely the Hottest on Record

Climate
2018 is set to be the fourth warmest year on record. @WMO / Twitter

2018 will likely be the fourth hottest year on record, according to the United Nations' authoritative voice for weather and climate. The three years that were warmer? 2016, 2015 and 2017.

Furthermore, the 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said Thursday in its 2018 State of the Climate report.


The new report, based on five independently maintained global temperature data sets, adds ever more proof that global warming is unequivocal—and we'd better act now to reverse this alarming trend.

Unfortunately, the current pace of international government action is "insufficient" to limit warming, the UN Environment Programme warned yesterday in its 2018 Emissions Gap Report. In fact, the annual assessment found that after a three-year decline, heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions actually increased to "historic levels" of 53.5 billion tonnes in 2017, with no signs of peaking.

"We are not on track to meet climate change targets and rein in temperature increases," WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said today in a press release. "Greenhouse gas concentrations are once again at record levels and if the current trend continues we may see temperature increases 3-5°C by the end of the century."

Taalas stressed that exploitation of fossil fuels will push temperature rise "considerably higher."

"It is worth repeating once again that we are the first generation to fully understand climate change and the last generation to be able to do something about it," he said.

Scientists have already warned that 2019 could be an unusually warm year due to a forecasted El Niño, which could cause extreme weather and temperature spikes.

The new State of the Climate report shows that temperatures for the first ten months of 2018 were nearly 1°C above the pre-industrial baseline from 1850-1900.

Last month's widely disseminated climate report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change showed that average global temperatures between 2006-2015 were 0.86°C above the pre-industrial baseline. In the last five years, 2014-2018, it was 1.04°C above the pre-industrial baseline.

"These are more than just numbers," said WMO Deputy Secretary-General Elena Manaenkova in today's press release.

"Every fraction of a degree of warming makes a difference to human health and access to food and fresh water, to the extinction of animals and plants, to the survival of coral reefs and marine life," she added. "It makes a difference to economic productivity, food security, and to the resilience of our infrastructure and cities. It makes a difference to the speed of glacier melt and water supplies, and the future of low-lying islands and coastal communities. Every extra bit matters."

The WMO report comes just days before the critical climate summit COP24 in Katowice, Poland, where delegates from roughly 200 countries will create a "rulebook" on how to implement the 2015 Paris agreement to avoid disastrous climate change.

The Paris accord aims to keep global temperature rise this century to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and has a more aspirational target to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Flames and smoke are seen billowing from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral on April 15 in Paris, France. Veronique de Viguerie / Getty Images

When Paris's Notre Dame caught fire on April 15, the flames threatened more than eight centuries of culture and history. The fire evoked shock, horror and grief worldwide. While the cathedral burned, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed determination to rebuild what the French regard as a sacred site.

Read More Show Less
An artist's impression of NASA's InSight lander on Mars. NASA / JPL-CALTECH

Scientists have likely detected a so-called marsquake — an earthquake on Mars — for the first time, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced on Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Hero Images / Getty Images

Across the political aisle, a majority of American parents support teaching climate change in schools even though most teachers currently do not.

Read More Show Less
Priit Siimon / flickr / cc

By Andrea Germanos

Lawyer and visionary thinker Polly Higgins, who campaigned for ecocide to be internationally recognized as a crime on par with genocide and war crimes, died Sunday at the age of 50.

She had been diagnosed with an aggressive cancer last month and given just weeks to live.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

An E. coli outbreak linked to ground beef has spread to 10 states and infected at least 156 people, CNN reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
The Anopheles stephensi mosquito, which carries malaria. CDC / Jim Gathany

The world's first malaria vaccine was launched in Malawi on Tuesday, NPR reported. It's an important day in health history. Not only is it the first malaria vaccine, it's the first vaccine to target any human parasite.

Read More Show Less
Ice-rich permafrost has been exposed due to coastal erosion, National Petroleum Reserve, Alaska. Brandt Meixell / USGS


By Jake Johnson

An alarming study released Tuesday found that melting Arctic permafrost could add nearly $70 trillion to the global cost of climate change unless immediate action is taken to slash carbon emissions.

According to the new research, published in the journal Nature Communications, melting permafrost caused by accelerating Arctic warming would add close to $70 trillion to the overall economic impact of climate change if the planet warms by 3°C by 2100.

Read More Show Less
Jeff Reed / NYC Council

The New York City Council last week overwhelmingly passed one of the most ambitious and innovative legislative packages ever considered by any major city to combat the existential threat of climate change.

Read More Show Less