2017 Ranks Among 3 Warmest Years on Record
By Alex Kirby
For all of us, as 2017 proves to be one of the three warmest years on record, climate change presents a greater risk of sickness or death than it did four decades ago, the United Nations says. And for some of the world's poorest people, the consequences of unpredictable weather caused by changing climate mean devastating disruption to their daily lives.
The news comes from the World Meteorological Organization, the UN system's leading agency on weather, climate and water, which has published its 2017 report on the state of the global climate. Much of it makes somber reading.
Since 1980, the report says, the overall risk of heat-related illness or death has climbed steadily, with around 30 percent of the world's people now living in climatic conditions where extreme heat persists for several days, and sometimes for weeks, each year. Between 2000 and 2016 the number of vulnerable people exposed to heatwaves increased by about 125 million.
An estimated 1.3 billion people (nearly one in six of those alive today) are at risk from cholera in countries where the disease is endemic (found regularly), while in Africa alone about 40 million people live in cholera "hotspots."
No El Niño
The report says many people are being forced from their homes by climate-related disasters. There was a massive flight of people propelled by drought and food insecurity within (not from) Somalia, where from November 2016 to mid-June 2017 nearly 761,000 climate refugees, defined as "drought-related internal displacements," were recorded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The WMO report says that while 2017 has been a cooler year than the record-setting 2016, it is very likely to prove one of the three warmest years on record, and the warmest not influenced by an El Niño event. These tend to increase global temperature when they occur, because of the associated ocean warming in the tropical Pacific and the subsequent enhanced heat release in the atmosphere.
The five-year global average temperature from 2013 to 2017 is currently close to 1°C above the average for 1880-1900 and is likely to be the highest five-year average on record. The world also continues to see rising sea levels, with some level of acceleration and increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases.
The cryosphere, the areas of the earth covered by ice and snow, continues to contract, in particular in the Arctic where sea ice extent continued shrinking. Antarctic sea ice extent started shrinking last year after some years of stability or even slight expansion.
"Antarctic sea ice continues to surprise us," said professor John Turner, a climatologist at the British Antarctic Survey. "With only 40 years of data we have to be careful about attributing this change to a specific cause. However, projections from a number of climate models all agree that Antarctic sea ice is likely to decline significantly through the 21st century."
The report records many significant weather and climate events in 2017, including a very active North Atlantic hurricane season, major monsoon floods in South Asia, and continuing severe drought in parts of east Africa.
In September 2017, the three major and devastating hurricanes that made landfall in rapid succession in the southern U.S. and several Caribbean islands broke modern records for such weather extremes and for associated loss and damage.
Global average temperature for the period from January to September 2017 was 0.47° above the 1981-2010 average. This estimate is based on five independently-maintained global temperature data sets, and the range represents the spread of those estimates.
2017 is on course to be the second or third warmest year on record. The previous year, 2016, which was influenced by a strong El Niño, is likely to remain the warmest.
Continuing global warmth means that 2015, 2016 and 2017 are now the three warmest years on record, according to data available to date for 2017. 2014 was the fourth warmest in four of five data sets considered, although a number of other years were comparable.
January to September 2017 is approximately 1.1°C above the average for 1880-1900. The five-year average from 2013-2017, provisionally 0.40°C warmer than the 1981-2010 average, is likely to be the highest five-year average on record.
The WNO's report is published on the opening day of the UN's 2017 climate conference in the German city of Bonn. It is due to end on Nov. 17.
"Whether via sea level rise, ocean heat content, extreme heatwaves, droughts, floods, melting ice, shifting ecosystems or displaced peoples, the planet is sending increasingly strong warnings," said Chris Rapley, professor of climate science at UCL, UK.
"Climate change and its consequences are with us now. We are imperfectly adapted to the climate system we inherited, and much less so to the one we are provoking."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Climate News Network.
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Since even moderate-intensity workouts offer a slew of benefits, walking is a good choice for people looking to stay healthy.
How to Rock Your Walk<p>Walking isn't just fun and healthy. It's accessible.</p><p>"Walking is cheap," says Dr. John Paul H. Rue, a sports medicine doctor at <a href="https://mdmercy.com/" target="_blank">Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore</a>. "You can do it anywhere at any time; [it] requires little to no special equipment and has many of the same cardio benefits as running or other more intense workouts."</p><p>Want to up your walking game? Try the tips below.</p>
Use Hand Weights<p>Cardio and strength training can go hand-in-hand when you add weights to your walk.</p><p>A <a href="https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2019/03000/Associations_of_Resistance_Exercise_with.14.aspx" target="_blank">2019 study</a> found that weight training is good for your heart, and <a href="https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(17)30167-2/abstract" target="_blank">research</a> shows it reduces the risk of developing a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/nutrition-metabolism-disorders" target="_blank">metabolic disorder</a> by 17 percent. People with metabolic disorders have a higher chance of being diagnosed with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.</p><p>Rue suggests not carrying weights for your entire walk.</p><p>"Hand weights can give you an added level of energy burning, but you have to be careful with these because carrying [them] over a long period of time or while walking could actually lead to some overuse injuries," he says.</p>
Make It a Circuit<p>As another option, consider doing a circuit. First, put a pair of dumbbells on your lawn or somewhere in your home. Walk around the block once, then stop and do some bicep curls and tricep lifts before walking around the block again.</p><p>Rue recommends <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/running-with-weights" target="_blank">avoiding ankle weights</a> during cardio workouts, as they force you to use your quadriceps rather than hamstrings. They can also cause muscle imbalance, according to the <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/wearable-weights-how-they-can-help-or-hurt" target="_blank">Harvard Health Letter</a>.</p>
Find a Fitness Trail<p>Strength training isn't limited to weights. You can get stronger by <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/bodyweight-workout" target="_blank">simply using your body</a>.</p><p>Often found at parks, fitness trails are obstacle courses with equipment for pullups, pushups, rowing, and stretches to build upper and lower body strength.</p><p>Try searching "fitness trails near me" online, checking out your local parks and recreation website, or calling the municipal office to <a href="https://calisthenics-parks.com/" target="_blank">find one</a>.</p>
Recruit a Friend<p>People who workout together stay healthy together.</p><p><a href="https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-017-0584-3" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that older adults who exercised with a group improved or maintained their functional health and enjoyed their lives more.</p><p>Enlist the help of a walking buddy with a regimen you aspire to have. If you don't know anyone in your area, apps like <a href="https://www.strava.com/" target="_blank">Strava</a> have social networking features so you can get support from fellow exercisers.</p>
Try Meditation<p>According to the <a href="https://www.nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/nhis/2017" target="_blank">2017 National Health Interview Survey</a>, published by the National Institutes of Health, meditation is on the rise, and for good reason.</p><p>Researchers <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29616846/" target="_blank">found</a> that mind-body relaxation practices can regulate inflammation, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/biological-rhythms" target="_blank">circadian rhythms</a>, and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/glucose" target="_blank">glucose</a> metabolism, as well as lower <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/high-blood-pressure-hypertension" target="_blank">blood pressure</a>.</p><p>"Any form of exercise can be turned into a meditation of some type, either by the surroundings you are walking in, like a park or trail, or by blocking out the outside world with music on your headphones," Rue says.</p><p>You can also play a podcast or download an app like <a href="https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app" target="_blank">Headspace</a> that has a library of guided meditations to practice while you walk.</p>
Do Fartlek Walks<p>Typically used in running, fartlek intervals alternate periods of increased and decreased speed. These are <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-hiit" target="_blank">high-intensity interval training (HIIT)</a> workouts, which allow exercisers to accomplish more in less time.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0154075" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that 10-minute interval training improved <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/metabolic-syndrome" target="_blank">cardiometabolic</a> health, or lowered the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, just as well as working out at a continuous pace for 50 minutes.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111489" target="_blank">Research</a> also shows that HIIT workouts increase muscle <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fast-twitch-muscles" target="_blank">oxidative</a> capacity, or the ability to use oxygen. To do a fartlek walk, try walking at an increased pace for 3 minutes, slow down for 2 minutes, and repeat.</p>
Gradually Increase Pace<p>A faster walking pace is associated with a lower risk of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/copd" target="_blank">chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)</a> and respiratory diseases, according to a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30303933/" target="_blank">2019 study</a>.</p><p>Still, it's best not to go from a stroll to an Olympic-worthy power walk in a day. Instead, increase your pace gradually to prevent injury.</p><p>"Start by walking at a brisk pace for about 10 minutes per day, 3 to 5 days per week," Rue says. "Once you've done this for a few weeks, increase your time by 5 to 10 minutes per day until you get to 30 minutes."</p>
Add Stairs<p>You've likely heard that taking the stairs instead of an elevator is a way to add more movement into your daily routine. It's also a way to step up your walking. Stair climbing has been shown to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335519301123?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">decrease the risk of mortality</a> and can easily add a bit more challenge to your walk.</p><p>If you don't have stairs in your home, you can often find them outside a local municipal building, train station, or at a high school stadium.</p>
Is Your Walk a True Cardio Workout?<p>Not all walks are equal. A walk that's too leisurely may not provide enough burn to qualify as cardio. To see if you're getting a good workout, try to <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-check-heart-rate" target="_blank">measure your heart rate</a> using a monitor.</p><p>"A target goal for a good walking workout heart rate is about 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate," Rue says, adding that maximum heart rate is <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/fat-burning-heart-rate" target="_blank">typically calculated</a> by 220 beats per minute minus your age.</p><p>You can also monitor how easily you can carry on a conversation while you walk to gauge your heart rate.</p><p>"If you can walk and carry on a normal conversation, that's probably a lower intensity walk," says Rue. "If you are slightly breathless but can still have a conversation, that's probably a moderate workout. If you are out of breath and can't talk normally, that's a vigorous workout."</p>
Takeaway<p>By shaking up your routine, you can add excitement to your workout and reap even more rewards than a basic walk provides. Increasing the pace and intensity of a workout will make it more effective.</p><p>Simply pick your favorite variation to add some spice to your next walk.</p>
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