As the United Nations’ annual Conference of the Parties (COP27) on the climate crisis begins, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) published news showing the last decade racked up eight of the hottest years in known human history.
The world is getting hotter, faster, per the World Meteorological Organization. And so is everything bad which leads from that. Photo: Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
The WMO issued its new report unfortunately with the same misleading and miscalculated information about average temperatures on the planet, which show 2022’s average temperature of just 1.15° C compared to levels prior to the surge of the industrial age starting in 1850. The reality is average temperatures throughout the globe are several degrees hotter than that value, based on many metrics recorded especially where the bulk of humanity lives.
But what they did get right about the temperatures was that a full eight of the past ten years were the hottest in history, driven by accelerating concentrations of all greenhouse gases including last year’s biggest ever jump in methane levels. That alone is hard proof of the spectacular failure of the nations of the world to curtail burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.
Temperature level variations in 2022 were skewed much hotter than in most past years. Photo: World Meteorological Organization
What the WMO also reported accurately is that the consequences of those emissions and that global heating are visible and accelerating in multiple areas.
Ocean Heat Content
With an estimated 90% of all heat trapped by the Earth stored in the oceans, it should not be surprising that ocean temperatures have risen by substantial amounts in parallel with the average overall surface temperatures on the planet.
These temperatures are monitored by multiple means, including most significantly the Argo array of 3,800 free-drifting profiling floats positioned around the world which can measure temperature, salinity, and even velocity of the top 2000 meters (6562 feet) of the ocean. Other sensors include conductivity-temperature-depth instruments (CTDs), eXpendable BathyThermographs (XBTs), instrumented mooring arrays, and ice-tethered profilers (ITPs).
According to scientists who have analyzed the data in detail, the average rate of global heating since the pre-industrial age has risen at a rate of the equivalent of 1.5 times the amount of energy released by the atomic bombs in Hiroshima every second. Since the current century began, that rate of warming has accelerated to between 3 and 6 times the Hiroshima bomb rate.
Ocean heat absorption since 1955. Photo: NASA Global Climate Change
That has resulted in a total increase in the amount of heat stored of 337 zettajoules since 1955, or 337 x 1021 joules. In a parallel study released by NASA in January of this year, that agency calculated that total heat absorbed in the oceans since January 2000 had risen by a factor of approximately 5.
Ocean heating increases over time by surface depth. Photo: World Meteorological Organization, State of the Global Climate 2021 Provisional Report
That heat has propagated downwards, with levels far below the immediate surface pf the ocean becoming increasingly harmful to marine life just because of temperature rises alone. Higher temperatures also cause the waters of the ocean to expand, raising sea levels all on their own.
Among the extreme weather consequences of ocean heating are that they provide the energy to turn tropical storms into the most powerful of cyclones and hurricanes in hours rather than days now. The same ocean heating is, together with atmospheric wind patterns at the equator, responsible for the "bowling ally" of storms which pass from the northwestern coast of Africa to the Caribbean. The storms hug the heat patterns almost like magnets, then once they make it across the Atlantic they either shift upwards along the eastern Florida coast or into the Gulf of Mexico.
Global map showing the highest Marine Heat Wave (MHW) category experienced at each pixel from 1 January to 14 October 2021 (compared to a reference period of1982–2011). Light grey indicates that no MHW occurred in a pixel over the entire year. Other colors are as follows: Category 1, Moderate is ale orange; Category 2, Strong, is dark orange; Category 3, Severe, is very dark orange; Category 4, Extreme, is black. Photo: World Meteorological Organization, State of Global Climate 2021, WMO Provisional Report.
Ocean heating is also responsible for slowing of certain major currents, such as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). That includes the Gulf Stream as one of its important feeding currents. This current is already showing signs of slowing because of ocean heating, as a result of straightforward thermodynamic effects. Hotter waters naturally flow into cooler sectors of the ocean, which is why the AMOC and Gulf Stream naturally flows upwards offshore the east coast of North America, then cools as it crosses the mid-to-northern Atlantic towards Europe. When the northern part of the Atlantic heats up more, which it will thanks to overall ocean warming, that current will slow even further, eventually coming to a near stop. When that happens, one of the climate crisis' many paradoxes will occur, allowing the east coast of Europe and the United Kingdom to grow colder than normal — for a while — because of the lack of heat from the Gulf Stream and the AMOC.
Ocean heating is also a primary cause of coral reef bleaching, which is on its way to killing off almost all coral reef structures on the planet by mid-century. One such reef which suffered major damage this year because of ocean heating was the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. The sixth and biggest mass extinction event ever for that reef happened earlier this year, roughly between January and March 2022.
The rise of surface air and ocean temperatures on the planet has also contributed to record melting of ice and snowpacks everywhere in the world.
Melting overall continues at record levels wherever sea ice, glaciers, or high altitude snowpack exists.
In 2021, Greenland reported the 25th year in a row with less ice left at the end of the year compared to the previous. Just two months ago, the country reported the first ever rainfall — rather than snowfall — for the month of September.
The Arctic had a slight decrease in melt rates during the 2020-2021 period, but still managed to fall in as the 9th or 10th lowest ice extent since 1979, depending on which data source was chosen for the measurements. Much of that decrease is the direct result of a long-term asymmetric heating pattern over the North Pole for many years. The Arctic is in fact currently warming at a rate 4 times that of the rest of the world on average, with serious damaging effects to sea level rise and marine life in the region.
This year the Antarctic sea ice extent fell to 1.9 million square kilometers (0.73 square miles) as of February 25, 2022, the lowest level on record; that was also a full 1 million square kilometers (0.39 square miles) below the mean long-term sea ice extent.
North American glacier melt loss rates, driven by much higher than average air temperatures, increased in the western part of that continent by nearly a factor of two from the 2000-2004 period to to 2015-2019 period, from 53 +/- 13 gigatons/year to 100 +/- 17 gigatons/year.
In Europe, the report notes that an exceptionally hot year so far has “shattered glacier melt records” in the European Alps. Average glacier thicknesses there dropped between 3 and 4 meters (between 9.8 and 13 feet), a much faster amount than in the previous record year of 2003. In Switzerland, glacier ice volume plummeted by 6% on a year-to-year basis; that contributed to a net decline of one third in total ice volume there from 2001 to 2022. In both regions, the high temperature heat waves which continue to encompass the continent, added to the lowest overall rainfall in history and correspondingly low snowpack buildup, were the major factors behind these declines.
In Asia, the Himalayan mountain range is currently melting at a rate twice as fast as it was in the 20th century. This too is rapidly decreasing the snowpack and available water for agriculture and drinking water, among other uses. It is also slowly making its way to the oceans and adding to total sea level rise.
Sea Level Rise
Global mean sea level rise, 1993-Present. Photo: World Meteorological Organization
With glaciers and sea ice melting so rapidly and the ocean expanding due to heat absorption, average sea levels have risen at an average rate of 3.4 mm/year (0.13 inches/year) between 1993 and 2022.
As with all the other parameters noted in this report, this too has increased in recent years. It doubled between the 1993-2002 and 2013-2022 measurement periods. It also jumped even more rapidly, by 5 mm (0.2 inches), between January 2021 and August 2022, and 10 mm in total since January 2020. That latter value amounts to approximately 10 percent of all sea level rise recorded since accurate satellite-based sea level measurements began being taken thirty years ago.
In East Africa, the report notes that rainfall has been well below average for over 40 years. That drought along with other issues has pushed the number of people facing food insecurity or near-starvation conditions in the continent to approximately 18.4 to 19.3 million people as of June 2022.
In Southern Africa, multiple cyclones which hit the area at the beginning of the year caused extensive damage in 2022, especially in Madagascar.
In Asia, Pakistan just months ago saw torrential rains which affected 33 million people, saw up to half the country’s crops destroyed, killed an estimated 1,700, and forced 7.9 million people to migrate as an estimated one-third of the country’s land mass was flooded for an extended period. Both India and Pakistan have also suffered from extreme heatwaves which caused major health problems throughout their countries. In China, record heat waves dried up rivers and caused major crop shortages throughout much of the year. As of August, the Yangtse River recorded its lowest water level ever.
In Europe, record heat waves also spread across the continent, with the United Kingdom reaching a record 40° C (104° F) on July 19 this summer and overall temperatures rising at twice the global average. As in China, its rivers rain dry in Germany, Spain, and Italy, and pushed drought levels to engulf much of the continent this summer. This is after already setting records for the worst drought on the continent in 500 years.
In the western United States, heat waves and drought of past years have reached devastating proportions in 2022. Because of this, the U.S. Department of Interior is about to order water usage cuts of in excess of 20% in some regions starting in January 2023.
The globe has also been affected by longer and more frequent heat waves over much of the planet in the last few years.
In the Caribbean and northwards, Hurricane Ian churned up record rainfalls, high winds, and widespread destruction from Cuba to Florida and the Carolinas.
Just as the WMO report was being finalized and early draft versions of it were circulating within the United Nations, its parent organization, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres issued a statement declaring that the planet was “on course for reaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible." But, that statement is an obvious lie, the tipping points have already been breached. At this stage nothing known can stop the melting of the Arctic and its release of vastly more greenhouse gases than all human emissions from all time. Forests are already switching from carbon sinks to carbon emitters. The oceans are already saturated with CO2 and as they heat up further will start releasing it. Even if humans were to cease all emissions of greenhouse gases today, it is already too late. We know this because during the COVID lockdowns when fossil fuel emissions plummeted, atmospheric CO2 levels did not decline — they kept increasing at an accelerated rate.
Governments and scientists have widely known about the threat of global warming and climate change since the late 1950s and in the past sixty years did littlel to prevent disaster. Humanity in general has known since the 1980s. In that time we have only continued to accelerate the destruction of essential eco-systems, polluted ever more of the planet and increased the burning of fossil fuels.
Looking at the situation objectively from a non-human perspective, the logical conclusion is that humans are a non-sentient parasitic species that infects the Earth and should be culled to save the other species. Even from a human perspective it is obvious that we are insane or stupid, or both.
It is true that a large percentage of the human population is now aware of the reality of runaway climate change and many do feel anxiety at the prospect. But that awareness hasn't compelled a widespread change of behavior. Large portions of humanity continue to choose a path that leads to accelerated mass extinction. The recent elections in Brazil are a good example of nearly half the population choosing to destroy not just their own future and that of their children but of all life on Earth by voting for an idiot psychopath hell-bent on destruction for short-term profit.
So, if most humans are indeed insane and stupid they will continue on the same path until that path ends for them. And end it will.
Others are choosing a different path — one that leads to transformation from being a parasitic species to Earth's caretakers and to survival. You can join them at https://www.climatesurvivalsolutions.com.