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The United Nations warns that climate change is leading humanity to an unprecedented catastrophe

The United Nations warns that climate change is leading humanity to an unprecedented catastrophe

The United Nations said four major indicators of climate change broke records in 2021, warning that the world’s energy system is leading humanity towards disaster.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in its report “The State of the World’s Climate” in 2021 that greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level rise, ocean heat content and ocean acidification “recorded unprecedented levels” last year.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the document was “a dismal confirmation of humanity’s failure to tackle climate disruption”.

Guterres warned that the world was closer than ever to a “climate catastrophe” due to a broken “global energy system”. He called for urgent steps to be taken to transition to renewable energy, which is “easy to achieve” and allows to move away from the “deadlock” represented by fossil fuels.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has announced that human activity has brought about changes on a planetary scale: on land, in the ocean and in the atmosphere, with harmful and lasting repercussions on ecosystems.

The report asserts that the past seven years have been the warmest in history, according to available records.

Weather phenomena associated with La Niña in early and late 2021 have had an effect on cooling the planet’s temperatures over the past year. But despite this, 2021 was one of the hottest years on record, with the average global temperature averaging about 1.11°C above pre-industrial levels.

The Paris Agreement aims to limit global temperature rise to +1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial era.

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“Our climate is changing right before our eyes,” declared WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

“The heat entrapped in the atmosphere by man-made greenhouse gases will warm the planet for many generations. Sea-level rise, ocean acidification and increased heat content will continue for centuries unless mechanisms are invented to remove carbon from the atmosphere.” .

Among the four “critical messages” in terms of indicators are the volume of greenhouse gas concentrations, which reached a new world record in 2020, at 413.2 parts of carbon dioxide (CO2) per million (parts per million) in the world. 149% more than the pre-industrial level.

The data reveal that the rise continued into 2021 and early 2022, with average monthly concentrations of carbon dioxide in Mina Loa, Hawaii, reaching 416.45 ppm in April 2020, 419.05 ppm in April 2021, and 420 ppm .23 ppm in April 2022.

Global mean sea level reached a new high in 2021, after rising by an average of 4.5 mm per year over the period 2013-2021.

“This number, more than double what was recorded between 1993 and 2002, is mainly due to faster mass loss of ice sheets,” the document notes.


Ocean temperatures also hit a record high last year, and heat is “penetrating deeper and deeper.” The World Meteorological Organization said: “The upper layer of the oceans, up to 2,000 meters deep, has been warming in 2021 and everything indicates that this will continue into the future, an irreversible change in time scales from hundreds to thousands of years.” .

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The oceans absorb approximately 23% of the annual man-made emissions of carbon dioxide that accumulate in the atmosphere. While this slows the rise in carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, it reacts with seawater and acidifies the oceans.

During that period, the report showed that the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica was “wide and deep,” with a peak of 24.8 million square kilometers, a surface the size of Africa.

Antonio Guterres proposed five measures to stimulate the transition to renewable energy, including encouraging greater access to renewable energy technologies and materials, tripling private and public investment in renewable energy, and ending subsidies for fossil fuels.

“If we work together, the transformation of renewable energies can be the peace project of the twenty-first century,” Guterres concluded.