A new report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says our generation may be the last to be able to act against climate change
As if the warning from the International Panel of Experts on Climate Change was not enough, the World Meteorological Organisation describes an alarming situation in its Provisional Report on the Global Climate in 2018 published today.
"We are not well placed to achieve climate change objectives and stop the increase in temperature," says Petteri Taalas, secretary general of WMO. "The concentrations of greenhouse gases are again at record levels, and, if the current trend continues, it is possible that the temperature will increase from 3 to 5°C by the end of the century."
"If we exploit all known fossil fuel resources, the increase in temperature will be considerably higher "explains Taalas at the beginning of the report.
"It is worth repeating once again that we are the first generation that fully understands climate change and the last generation that can do something about it," he added.
It should be noted that the alarming report from the International Panel of Experts, which draws a rather catastrophic picture, was based on an increase in global temperature of 1.5º to 2ºC. The effects of a 5ºC warming are hard to imagine.
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2018 is the fourth warmest year in history - with continued warming in the Arctic (as illustrated by the main image of the article) - and the last four years have been the warmest on record.
Sea levels continue to rise
The report also notes that sea levels continues to rise, estimating an increase of 2-3 millimetres in comparison to 2017. This may seem a small amount, but the British Weather Service warned this week that the water level in London could rise one and a half meters by the year 2100.
The United Kingdom experienced one of its warmest summers this year -- this trend is set to continue.
The world's oceans have also reached record temperatures due to 90% of excess energy trapped by greenhouse gases being stored in them. Scientists estimate that the oceans have absorbed 25% of the CO2 emissions of human origin, which has altered the pH and acidified them, with serious consequences for marine life (already affected by plastic waste).
The greenhouse gas concentrations have once again reached record levels after a period of relative stabilisation.
Extreme weather events are not something of the future. They are very noticeable in the here and now.
Deadly floods and waterspouts in the Mediterranean Sea. Many of us have experienced the inclement weather of 2018.
The report points to the exceptional heatwave felt in northern Europe this summer, which manifested itself with fires in the Arctic Circle, a drought from the Netherlands to Poland, and the intense (but short) heat wave in the Iberian Peninsula.
However, Europe also experienced one of its biggest cold spells in recent years at the end of February and the beginning of March.
The World Meteorological Organisation also notes the exceptional fires that Canada and the United States have suffered.
The report also warns about the socio-economic impacts, mainly in agriculture and livestock estimates, with data from the UN, that two million people have been displaced due to weather-related disasters.
With data from the countries participating in the report, the WMO estimates that 1,600 people have died from heat waves and a hundred due to the fires in the lead up to September, which doesn't take into account the devastating fires more recently in California.
Following the fires, the disaster in California was not yet over. The southwestern US state now faces torrential rains, triggering danger of potentially deadly landslides.