As this year and decade come to a close, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) paused and considered some inconvenient truths. Namely, that it has been the hottest decade on record, and that 2019’s experienced the second- or third-highest temperatures ever recorded.

According to the WMO’s report, not only have temperatures for the past 10 years been higher than any prior decade, but the concentration of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere has continued to rise in 2019 from the eye-watering level of 407.8 parts per million in 2018.

As a consequence:

  • The ice sheets have melted faster, leading to a rise in sea level.
  • The oceans being warmer and more acidic is destroying marine ecosystems and endangering wildlife.
  • Extreme natural events such as floods, wildfires, heatwaves, droughts, and tropical cyclones are becoming more intense and more common.
  • Population displacement and health risks are heightened.
  • Food security is deteriorating due to erratic weather events.

WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas explained, “If we do not take urgent climate action now, then we are heading for a temperature increase of more than 3°C by the end of the century, with ever more harmful impacts on human well-being.” The target of the 2015 Paris Agreement was to keep the temperature increase since the start of the industrial era well under 2 degrees Celsius.

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