"2023: Earth Breaks Global Annual Heat Records"

Last year, Earth broke annual heat records, nearly reaching the globally agreed warming threshold, and exhibited other signs of a planet experiencing rising temperatures, according to the European climate agency on Tuesday.

The European climate agency Copernicus reported a global temperature increase of 1.48 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times, just below the 1.5° Celsius limit set in the 2015 Paris climate agreement to avoid severe warming effects. Samantha Burgess, deputy director of Copernicus, stated that January 2024 is projected to surpass the 1.5° threshold for the first time in a 12-month period.

Record-breaking heat impacted various regions, leading to severe consequences such as deadly heatwaves, extreme weather events, and environmental changes. Last year, the United States experienced 28 weather disasters causing at least $1 billion in damage, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported.

The increase in global temperatures, attributed mainly to rising greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, has raised concerns about the long-term impact on the planet. Malte Meinshausen, a climatologist at the University of Melbourne, explained that approximately 1.3 degrees Celsius of warming is due to greenhouse gases, while 0.1 degrees Celsius is attributed to natural phenomena like El Niño.

Despite efforts to curb emissions, the trajectory of rising temperatures suggests a challenging future. Carlo Buontempo, director of Copernicus, emphasized the need for continued efforts to mitigate climate change, comparing it to adhering to a speed limit even if it has been exceeded. He warned that if current trends persist, the record-setting warmth of 2023 might soon be considered a “cold year.”

The data, based on a combination of observations and forecast models, provides insight into the urgency of addressing climate change to prevent further environmental damage.

Piers Potter


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