Globally, last year was the second-hottest year on record history.
Last year, for the first time in history, temperatures in Alaska were above zero, while in Australia it was 1.5 degrees Celsius above normal. Along with Alaska and Australia, heat records were recorded last year in Poland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe as well as in Madagascar, New Zealand, parts of southern Africa and eastern South America.
In addition, for some time alarm is raised about Greenland glaciers, which have melted at an unprecedented rate during the last year. The first effects of these events are also visible: increased average hurricanes and typhoons, as well as forest and scrub fires, are nasabecoming more frequent each year and are expanding in size.
The last five years as a whole have been the hottest recorded heat period of all time. The main reason for this is man-made greenhouse gases, convinced scientists from NASA and NOAA.
For many years scientists have warned that globally 1.5 degrees above normal may be the maximum for climate change to be considered reversible. The planet has already warmed by more than a degree since the pre-industrial era, and scientists warn that the opportunity to change it may be missed.
Although 2019 is only the second warmest in history, behind the global average temperature record set in 2016, scientists noted that this does not necessarily mean that 2016 was a turning point after which it remains cooler. For example, the world’s seas and oceans have absorbed so much heat last year as never before in recorded history.
“We are not happy to report the same [new heat records] every year, but we will continue to do so until GHG emissions are controlled,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of the NASA Godard Space Research Institute.
The Paris Climate Agreement, already achieved in 2015, with only the US withdrawing so far, obliges countries to pursue policies so that average temperatures do not rise more than two degrees Celsius. However, scientists warn that even this commitment, if fulfilled, is not enough.
With an average temperature rise of one and a half degrees on the planet, about 350 people will be short of water and most coral reefs will die, but two degrees will mean that water will be inaccessible to about 410 million people and coral reefs will disappear completely.
“I don’t think we’ll stay below 1.5 degrees because I think we’re at a point where it’s no longer possible. Not for physical barriers, but for sociological reasons,” Schmidt explains. At the same time, he does not consider the fight against climate change to be completely lost – even if the rise in average temperatures can be halt by a tenth of a degree.