There is “no room for doubt”. The astonishing weather experienced by the world last year and advances in climate science demonstrate conclusively that fossil fuel emissions are causing global warming – and something must be done about it.
That was the reaction from scientist after scientist to a new report by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), which documented record-breaking droughts, heatwaves, rainfall, melting of sea ice and a host of tangible signs observed in 2016 that the Earth’s climate has changed.
Amid fears that Donald Trump will withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change, the Secretary-General of the WMO said it was “vital” to slash carbon emissions and prepare for increasingly dangerous weather.
Writing in the report’s foreword, Petteri Taalas said: “The influence of human activities on the climate system has become more and more evident.
“This influence is increasingly being demonstrated by attribution studies for some of the most critical weather and climate extremes, in particular extremes related to heat.
“It is vital that [the Paris Agreement’s] implementation becomes a reality and that [it] guides the global community in addressing climate change by curbing greenhouse gases, fostering climate resilience and mainstreaming climate adaptation into national development policies.”
The WMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2016 pointed to multiple signs that our planet’s weather is getting more extreme, including:
• the record average temperature for the year of about 1.1C above pre-industrial levels;
• millions of people going hungry after crops failed in parts of Africa as rainfall fell up to 60 per cent below average;
• flooding that displaced hundreds of thousands of people in south-east Asia;
• record low levels of sea ice in both the Arctic and Antarctic;
• the wettest ever winter on record in Scotland…