Planet remains on track to smash record for hottest year

For the sixth month in a row, Earth has set a new monthly record for heat and added the hottest northern autumn to the litany of record heat this year, the European climate agency says.

And with only one month left, 2023 is on the way to smashing the record for the hottest year.

November was almost 0.3 degrees Celsius hotter than the previous hottest November, the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Climate Change Service said on Wednesday.

November was 1.75 degrees warmer than pre-industrial times, tying October and behind September, for the hottest above average for any month, the scientists said.

“The last half year has truly been shocking,” said Copernicus Deputy Director Samantha Burgess.

“Scientists are running out of adjectives to describe this.”

November averaged 14.22 degrees, which is 0.85 degrees warmer than the average the past 30 years.

Two days during the month were 2 degrees warmer than pre-industrial times, something that had not happened before, according to Burgess.

So far this year is 1.46 degrees warmer than pre-industrial times, about 0.7 degrees warmer than the previous warmest year of 2016, Copernicus scientists calculated.

That’s very close to the international threshold the world set for climate change.

The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement set a goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial times in the long term and failing that, at least 2 degrees.

Diplomats, scientists, activists and others meeting at the United Nations climate conference in Dubai for almost two weeks are trying to find ways to limit warming to those levels, but the planet is not co-operating.

Scientists calculate with the promises countries around the world have made and the actions they have taken, earth is on track to warm 2.7 degrees to 2.9 degrees above pre-industrial times.

The northern autumn is also the hottest the world has had on record, Copernicus calculated.

Copernicus records go back to 1940.

United States government calculated records go back to 1850.

Scientists using proxies such as ice cores, tree rings and corals have said this is the warmest decade Earth has seen in about 125,000 years, dating back before human civilisation.

And the past several months have been the hottest of the past decade.

Scientists say there are two driving forces behind the six straight record hottest months in a row.

One is human-caused climate change from the burning of coal, oil and gas, which is like an escalator.

But the natural El Nino-La Nina cycle is like jumping up or down on that escalator.

The world is in a potent El Nino, which is a temporary warming of parts of the central Pacific that changes weather worldwide, and that adds to global temperatures already spiked by climate change.

It’s only going to get warmer as long as the world keeps pouring greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, Burgess said.

And she said that means “catastrophic floods, fires, heat waves, droughts will continue”.

“2023 is very likely to be a cool year in the future unless we do something about our dependence on fossil fuels,” Burgess said.

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