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World Meteorological Organization issues stark warning on climate change

05 April 2019

Rise in temperature is at ‘dangerous levels’


The Garden of Earthly Worries: sculptures by Daniel Libeskind unveiled on Tuesday. They represent chemicals that contribute to the changing climate, set in the 17th-century gardens at Het Loo Palace, Apeldoorn, in the Netherlands. See gallery for more picture stories

The Garden of Earthly Worries: sculptures by Daniel Libeskind unveiled on Tuesday. They represent chemicals that contribute to the changing climate, s...

CLIMATE change is accelerating and driving temperatures to “increasingly dangerous levels”, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warns in its latest report.

The State of the Global Climate report, which has been published every year for the past quarter of a century, found that the years 2015-18 were the warmest four years on record: almost 1°C above the average temperature between 1850 and 1900.

When the first report came out, in 1993, carbon-dioxide levels were at 357 parts per million (ppm) in the atmosphere. These have now risen to 405.5 ppm, and are expected to increase further, the report says.

It also said that, in 2018, there were record levels of heat found in the seas, and that the extent of ice in the Antarctic and Arctic was well below average.

In addition, sea levels have continued to increase, with global mean sea-level rising 3.7mm higher in 2018 than the previous year.

The secretary-general of the United Nations, António Guterres, told world leaders not to respond to the report with a speech, but a plan. The latest report, he said, “proves what we have been saying: climate change is moving faster than our efforts to address it. . .

“We are seeing record rises in land and ocean temperatures, sea levels, and greenhouse-gas concentrations. Second, we are seeing, more and more, the dramatic impact of extreme weather conditions. Last year saw 14 weather events where the devastation cost more than $1 billion. . . The average number of people exposed to heatwaves has increased by some 125 million since the beginning of the century, with deadly consequences.”

The Secretary-General of the WMO, Petteri Taalas, said that time was running out to achieve commitments agreed last December in Paris to try to limit global temperature rise to below 2°C.

Professor Taalas said that the victims of the latest weather-related disaster, Cyclone Idai, “personify why we need the global agenda on sustainable development, climate-change adaptation, and disaster risk reduction” (News, 22 March).

The organisation Climate Keys, founded by the composer and pianist Lola Perrin, is inviting places of worship to join in a repeated tolling of 12 church bells on, or shortly after, 15 April, to highlight the warning from leading climate scientists that there are only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5°C.

From May, Ms Perrin is taking part, with the protest group “Extinction Rebellion”, in a tour, “End Climate Chaos”, which combines a concert with a talk and discussion.

She said: “Music can engage diverse communities who wouldn’t otherwise be involved in climate work. Our events provide platforms for sharing expertise and forming emotional connections, motivating human action.”

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