Geneva, May 18, 2022 (WMO) – In 2021, four vital signs of climate change—the number of greenhouse gases in the air, the rise in sea level, the warming of the oceans, and the acidification of the oceans—set new records. According to the World Meteorological Organization, this is another clear sign that human activities are causing changes on a global scale on land, in the ocean, and the atmosphere. These changes are bad for sustainable development and ecosystems in the long run (WMO).
Utmost weather is the “face” of climate change that we see every day. It has cost the economy hundreds of billions of dollars and taken a heavy toll on human lives and well-being. It has also caused food and water security shocks and forced people to move, which has worsened in 2022.
The State of the Global Climate in 2021 report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed that the previous seven years had been the warmest ever recorded. At the beginning and end of 2021, La Nia made it “only” one of the seven warmest years. This made it more relaxed for a while, but it didn’t stop the overall rise in temperature. In 2021, the normal global temperature was about 1.11 (0.13) °C higher than before industrialization.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres used the presentation of the WMO flagship report to critique “the tragic litany of humanity’s failure to deal with climate change.” He also advocated for immediate action to seize the “low-hanging fruit” of shifting energy systems away from fossil fuels’ “dead end” and toward renewables.
In a video message, Mr. Guterres suggested five essential steps speed up the switch to renewable energy. They include more access to renewable energy technology and supplies, a tripling of private and public investments in renewables, and the end of subsidies for fossil fuels, which cost about $11 million per minute.
“Renewables are the only way to get real energy security, stable electricity prices, and long-term jobs. “The transition to renewable energy can be the peace project of the 21st century if we all work together,” said Mr. Guterres.
He said that the nation must act in this decade to stop the effects of climate change from getting worse and to keep the temperature rise to less than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
Prof. Petteri Taalas, the head of the WMO, said, “It’s only a matter of time before we have another warmest year on record.” “The weather is changing right in front of our eyes. People’s greenhouse gases will keep the Earth warm for many generations. Sea level rise, warming of the seas, and acidification will continue for hundreds of years if we don’t find a way to take carbon. Some glaciers have reached the point where they can’t go back, which will have long-term effects in a nation where more than 2 billion people already have trouble getting enough water.
“Extreme weather is the thing that affects our daily lives the most. Since we’ve been preparing for disasters for years, we’re better at saving lives, but the costs worsen. But many things need to be completed, as we see with the drought emergency in the Horn of Africa, the current deadly flooding in South Africa, and the extreme heat in India and Pakistan. Early Warning Systems are essential for adapting to climate change, but less than half of the WMO’s members have them.
Prof. Taalas said, “We are committed to ensuring that early warnings reach everyone in the next five years, as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asked.”
The WMO State of the Global Climate report goes along with the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, which has data up to 2019.
The new WMO report comes with a story map that gives policymakers the information and real-world examples about how the climate change indicators described in the IPCC report played out over the past few years around the world and how the effects of extremes were felt on a national and regional level in 2021.
The State of the Global Climate report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) will be an official document for the COP27 talks on climate change held in Egypt later this year.
Dozens of experts from Member-States contribute to the report. These include National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) and Global Data and Analysis Centers, as well as Regional Climate Centers, the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), and the Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW), the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change services and the Global Cryosphere Watch.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (UNESCO-IOC), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the World Food Programme are all partners of the UN (WFP)
In 2020, carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere reached 413.2 parts per million (ppm), or 149 percent of the pre-industrial level. This was a new global high for greenhouse gas levels. Data from certain places show that they continued to rise in 2021 and the beginning of 2022. For example, the average monthly CO2 level at Mona Loa in Hawaii was 416.45 parts per million in April 2020, 419.05 ppm in April 2021, and 420.23 ppm in April 2022.
In 2021, the average annual temperature around the world was about 1.11 0.13 °C above what it was in the years before industrialization. This was less warm than in recent years because La Nia conditions made it more relaxed at the start and end of the year. From 2015 to 2021, the last seven years have been the warmest on record.
The heat in the ocean was at an all-time high. In 2021, the upper 2000m of the sea continued to warm, and it will likely continue to warm in the future. This change cannot be reversed over 100-1000 years. All data sets agree that the rate of warming of the oceans has gone up a lot in the previous 20 years, and the warmth keeps getting deeper and deeper. At least one “strong” marine heatwave hit a lot of the ocean in 2021.
Oceans are getting more acidic. About 23% of the CO2 that humans put into the air each year is taken up by the sea. This reacts with seawater to make the ocean more acidic, which is terrible for organisms and ecosystem services and, as a result, for food security, tourism, and protecting the coast. As the pH of the ocean goes down, so does its ability to take in CO2 from the air.
The IPCC concluded that “there is a very high level of confidence that the pH of the open ocean surface is now the lowest it has been in at least 26,000 years,” The rate at which the pH is changing now has never been seen before.
After rising an average of 4.5 mm per year from 2013 to 2021, the mean sea level reached a new record high in 2021. This is more than twice as fast as the rate between 1993 and 2002. This is mainly because the ice sheets are losing ice mass faster than before. This is a big deal for the hundreds of millions of people who live near the coast and makes them more vulnerable to tropical cyclones.
Cryosphere: Even though less ice melted in the glaciological year 2020-2021 than in the last few years, there is a clear trend toward a faster loss of mass over many decades. Since 1950, the world’s reference glaciers have shrunk by an average of 33.5 meters (ice-equivalent), and 76 percent of that shrinkage has happened since 1980.
Heatwaves and fires in June and July of 2021 caused glaciers in Canada and the Northwest of the United States to lose record amounts of ice mass. Greenland had an unusual melt event in the middle of August, and it rained for the first time at Summit Station, which is the highest point on the ice sheet at 3,216 m.
Hotwaves in western North America and the Mediterranean were so extreme that they broke records. On July 9, the highest temperature in the world since at least the 1930s was recorded in Death Valley, California, at 54.4 °C. Syracuse, Sicily, reached 48.8 °C. On June 29, the temperature in the Canadian province of British Columbia reached 49.6 °C. This led to more than 500 heat-related deaths and caused devastating wildfires, making flooding in November worse.
In China’s Henan province, flooding caused US$17.7 billion in economic losses. In mid-July, some of the worst flooding ever recorded in Western Europe caused financial losses in Germany of more than US$20 billion. There were a lot of deaths.
The Horn of Africa, Canada, the western United States, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkey were all affected by droughts. In subtropical South America, lack caused significant losses in farming and messed up the way energy was made, and rivers moved. So far, in 2022, the drought in the Horn of Africa has become worse.
Eastern Africa is very likely to have no rain for the fourth year. This would put Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia into a drought that hasn’t happened in the last 40 years. Humanitarian groups are warning of terrible effects on people and their ways of life in the area.
Hurricane Ida was the strongest storm in the North Atlantic this year. It hit land in Louisiana on August 29, and US$75 billion worth of damage is expected there.
Because of a solid and stable polar vortex and colder-than-usual conditions in the lower stratosphere, the ozone hole over the Antarctic was vast and deep. It reached its largest size of 24.8 million km2, which is the size of Africa.
Food security: Decades of work to improve food security around the world were undone by the COVID-19 pandemic, which made the effects of war, extreme weather, and economic shocks even worse. Humanitarian crises that are getting worse in 2021 have also put more countries at risk of famine. More than half of the people who will be hungry in 2020 will live in Asia (418 million), and a third will live in Africa (282 million).
Hydrometeorological hazards have caused internal displacement for a long time. As of October 2021, the most people who had to move were in China (more than 1.4 million), the Philippines (more than 386 thousand), and Viet Nam (more than 664 thousand).
The changing climate affects ecosystems, such as terrestrial, freshwater, coastal, and marine ecosystems and their services. Some ecosystems are more at risk than others, and some are changing at a rate that has never been seen before. For example, mountain ecosystems, which are the world’s water towers, are affected in a big way. Rising temperatures make it more likely that marine and coastal ecosystems like seagrass meadows and kelp forests will be lost forever.
Climate changes are awful for coral reefs. At 1.5 °C of warming, they will lose between 70 and 90 percent of the area they used to cover. At two °C, they will lose over 99 percent of the place they used to cover. Depending on how fast sea levels rise, between 20% and 90% of the coastal wetlands, we have now could be gone by the end of this century. This will hurt ecosystem services like the supply of food, tourism, and the protection of the coasts even more.
The World Economic Forum
The research was released just in time for the World Economic Forum’s 2022 Annual Meeting, which will bring forth over 2,000 world leaders and experts to discuss “Government Policies and Business Strategies at a Turning Point in History.” One of the most complex matters is encouraging the public and private sectors to collaborate to meet vital climate targets by 2030 and 2050.
Gim Huay Neo, a member of the World Economic Forum’s Managing Board, said, “The State of the Global Climate report emphasizes the need to act quickly, on a large scale, and systemically to reduce the environmental risks described in the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks report.”
“The recent IPCC report shows that we already have the tools and knowledge to cut emissions and stop global warming from getting worse. We need to focus on bold policies and solutions that can quickly change how we make and use resources. People and partnerships have to be at the center of everything we do, whether to do new jobs, give everyone more access and make things cheaper, or build a cleaner, greener place to live.
“The upcoming Annual Meeting in Davos is a great chance to show how serious we are about taking action on climate change, turn our goals into actions, and make more partnerships so we can all work jointly to make a future we can be proud of,” she said.
edited and proofread by nikita sharma