The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has recently reported that the decade from 2011 to 2020 was the warmest on record. This alarming trend, characterized by global mean temperatures being 1.10 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average, has been consistent with each passing decade since the 1990s, being warmer than its predecessor.
Unprecedented Ice Melt and Sea-level Rise
The report underscores the acceleration of an unprecedented phenomenon: ice melt and sea level rise. Glaciers have been thinning at an alarming rate of approximately 1 meter per year. The Antarctic ice sheet, on the other hand, experienced an ice loss increase of 75% compared to the previous decade. This increase poses a significant risk to low-lying coastal areas. Greenhouse gas emissions, the primary driver behind this worrying trend, have been blamed for the consistent warming.
Call for Urgent Action
WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas stressed the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Without immediate and substantial action, climate change could spiral out of control. However, despite the disconcerting data, the report also held a glimmer of hope. The Antarctic ozone hole was found to be smaller than in previous decades, demonstrating the success of the Montreal Protocol in controlling harmful emissions.
Reduced Casualties but Increased Economic Losses
Interestingly, the report noted a reduction in the number of casualties from extreme weather events. This decrease is credited to improved early warning systems and robust disaster management strategies. However, economic losses due to these events have risen, posing a significant challenge to global economies. The warmest six years globally occurred between 2015 and 2020, emphasizing the direct impacts of extreme weather on food security, displacement, and the progress toward Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).