New records associated with global climate change are falling at a dizzying rate, and some of the statistics are “astonishing” in their magnitude. It all adds up to more signs than ever before that irreversible and potentially catastrophic changes associated with global warming will push the world’s population to the brink .
The year 2012 will ultimately go down as one of the hottest, driest, and most extreme 12 moths of weather in at least a century-and-a-half. No corner of the globe has been left untouched by the dramatic climatic shift, with a map of this year’s temperature departures from average showing just a thin slice of territory escaping the global heat wave that has made 2012 so remarkable.
The United States is an unmistakable bullseye on the global temperature map, representative of the record heat and drought of the spring and summer as well as October’s bizarre East Coast “superstorm” that has led to unprecedented personal and economic impacts on ordinary Americans, causing more of them to link the extreme weather with climate change than ever before.
Sharp increases in the number of Americans that believe climate change is both real and a serious threat can also be explained through basic math. After calculating data from October 2012, NOAA concludes that there have been 332 consecutive months with an above-average global temperature. That means anyone born in or after April of 1985 has never experienced a single month with a colder-than-average temperature.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration summarizes October 2012:
The average temperature across land and ocean surfaces during October was 14.63°C (58.23°F). This is 0.63°C (1.13°F) above the 20th century average and ties with 2008 as the fifth warmest October on record. The record warmest October occurred in 2003 and the record coldest October occurred in 1912. This is the 332nd consecutive month with an above-average temperature.
Emphasis added. If you were born in or after April 1985, if you are right now 27 years old or younger, you have never lived through a month that was colder than average. That’s beyond astonishing.
That trend of what used to be considered unusually warm temperatures have become the “new normal” of climate change continues this holiday season. The 2012 Thanksgiving holiday and holiday week produced some of the warmest seasonal temperatures in US history. Several cities set new records for the warmest temperatures ever seen for this time of year.
With the broiling first 10 months of the year already in the books and little chance that the heat pervading so much of the country will abate in November or December, experts are now “90 percent” certain that 2012 will mark the warmest year ever recorded for the lower 48 United States.
Continuing a hot trend, October was the fifth warmest across the globe since record keeping began in 1880. And climate scientists say it’s likely, about 90 percent so, that 2012 will become the warmest year on record for the contiguous United States.
The last 36 Octobers, including this one, have experienced global temperatures above the 20th-century average; in fact, the past 332 months have all shown above-average temperatures globally, according to a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“There were no parts of the globe that were record cold during October 2012,” said climatologist Jake Crouch, of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, during a press briefing today (Nov. 15).
The last October with global temperatures dipping below the 20th-century average occurred in 1976, while the last month to do the same was February 1985, according to NOAA.
The record October temperature — 58.23 degrees F — refers to the combined average temperature across the planet’s land and sea surfaces, reaching 1.13 degrees F above the 20th-century average; this also tied with the global temperature measure in October 2008. To date, this year stands as the eighth warmest on record for global average temperatures.
And based on historical records, Crouch says it’s likely 2012 will end up as the warmest on record for the contiguous United States. “That’s based only on historical data and doesn’t take into account the forecast,” Crouch told LiveScience, referring to historical data for November and December temperatures. “If we look at the forecast that the Climate Prediction Center is [giving] it’s much more likely” that we’ll see a record-warm year.
Accompanying the history making heat in the US and across the globe are dire new predictions on just how much hotter the planet will get thanks to man-made climate change. Old estimates on which so much of the specific projections of what threats will emanate from higher global temperatures are being proven to be far too conservative.
The World Bank has released a report warning that global temperatures could rise by 4 degrees fahrenheit as soon as 2060, a prediction that doubles old estimates of the peak temperature rise that would be associated with global warming.
An accelerated global warming timetable and more extreme heat will likely set off global droughts, heat waves and storms far worse than scientists had projected. The irreversible climate “tipping point” may soon be reached.
With barely seven days left for the Doha round of the United Nations-sponsored climate change talks, the World Bank has warned that without immediate action global temperatures could rise by 4 degrees by 2060. This unprecedented rise in temperature would affect the developing and poor countries most adversely.
The World Bank report, Turn Down the Heat, states that without interventions the 4 degrees Celsius increase above pre-industrial levels could take place as early as the 2060s. Global temperatures have already risen about 0.8 degrees.
This unprecedented rise in temperature comes with increased risk of extreme rainfall and drought. River basins like the Ganga would be particularly vulnerable to changes in seasonal runoff, which would affect availability of water. It would also lead to inundation of coastal areas, and India with its long coastline would be vulnerable. Acidity of seas is expected to rise at an unprecedented level as well, threatening the livelihood of millions of fishermen.
Driving the pessimism on slowing the global temperature rise is that global carbon emissions have not been checked even as awareness of the looming crisis has increased and multiple global initiatives devoted to solving the climate crisis have been created.
Having fully recovered from an insignificant dip caused by the 2009 recession, global carbon emissions once again set a new record last year — future spikes could push emissions at least 20 percent higher in less than a decade.
Over 40 billion tons of CO2 will likely be pumped into the atmosphere in the year 2020, a figure that would nearly double the world’s CO2 output from 1990.
Global carbon dioxide emissions hit a new record last year at 34 billion tonnes, with China still topping the list of greenhouse gas producers, a German-based private institute said Tuesday.
The Renewable Energy Industry Institute (IWR) said that the total amounted to 800 million tonnes more than in 2010, with China accounting for 8.9 billion tonnes — far more than the US tally of 6.0 billion tonnes.
The study found that after a brief dip in 2009 due to the global economic crisis, the upward trajectory had resumed.
“If the current trend continues then global CO2 emissions will rise another 20 percent by the year 2020 to reach 40 billion tonnes of CO2,” IWR director Norbert Allnoch said in a statement.
In 1990, the figure was 22.7 billion tonnes.
After China and the United States, India came in third with 1.8 billion tonnes followed by Russia with 1.7 billion, Japan with 1.3 billion and Germany with 804 million.