The student news site of Adrian Wilcox High School in Santa Clara, California

The Scribe

The student news site of Adrian Wilcox High School in Santa Clara, California

The Scribe

The student news site of Adrian Wilcox High School in Santa Clara, California

The Scribe

2023 Raises Concerns for Future

Kim Stanley Robinson
2023 is confirmed as the warmest calendar year in global temperature data records going back to 1850

In a shocking revelation, the European Union’s climate agency, Copernicus, confirmed that 2023 stands for the hottest year on record, with a global average temperature of 14.98 degrees Celsius. This record is a staggering 0.17 degrees Celsius higher than the previous record-breaking year in 2016. According to the Copernicus deputy director Samantha Burgess, climate records are “tumbling like dominoes,” emphasizing the alarming trend of rising temperatures worldwide. 

2023 witnessed a continuous string of daily temperature records, particularly in the second half of 2023. BBC analysis of Copernicus Climate Change Service data revealed that more than 200 days experienced a new daily global temperature record for the time of year. This unexpected surge in temperature has left scientists puzzled, with the rapid onset of El Niño conditions contributing to the unusual warmth. 

Ander Dessler, a professor of atmospheric science at Texas A&M University, notes the unprecedented nature of the warmth in 2023 that broke records by a significant margin. “What struck me was not just that [2023] was record-breaking, but the amount by which it broke previous records,” expresses Dessler. Global regions are now inching closer to surpassing crucial international climate targets, raising concerns about the unforeseen impacts of this rigid climate. 

Climate Central, a nonprofit organization, emphasizes the human influence on the escalating temperatures. Over the past century, the burning of fossil fuels has released high amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at unprecedented rates, surpassing any point in the last 800,000 years of Earth’s history. The consequences behind human actions were starkly evident in 2023, with every single day exceeding 1 degree Celsius above the pre-industrial level. 

“The main cause of rapid global warming today is heat-trapping pollution from human activities,” the group explains. “This year’s record global average temperatures reflect extreme and often dangerous heat events driven by human-caused climate change.” 

The profound impacts of these warming trends extend beyond the air, reaching the oceans. Copernicus reported that 2023 saw the highest daily global sea surface temperature ever recorded, worsening the effects of extreme weather events across the globe. From intense heat waves and wildfires in Canada and the US to droughts and flooding in East Africa, the repercussions of this extreme warmth have been devastating, leading to significant loss of lives. “These are more than just statistics,” reiterates Prof Petteri Taalas, the Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization.

Experts warn that 2023 may bring even hotter temperatures. The UK’s Met Office predicts another record-breaking year, with a temperature boost from El Niño. Scientists anticipate that 2024 could be between 1.34 and 1.58 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average, marking the 11th consecutive year of global temperatures exceeding 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The consequences of this heightened global warming were evident in the United States, where NOAA reported a record-breaking 28 weather or climate disasters in 2023, each causing $1 billion or more in damage. This far surpassed the previous record of 22 set in 2020. 

Moreover, these billion-dollar storms have been more frequent since around 2008. Up until that point, the number of annual billion-dollar storms did not surpass five. However, since then, the figure has sharply risen. This frequency, as well as a decrease in the number of days between major disasters, reveals the escalating impact of climate change. 

“It’s important to recognize that a temporary exceedance of 1.5 °C won’t mean a breach of the Paris Agreement,” Dunstone said in a Met Office statement, referring to the agreement of world leaders to commit to actions that would prevent passing this threshold. “But the first year above 1.5 °C would certainly be a milestone in climate history” 

The threatening global warming witnessed in 2023 may set the stage for future climate-related challenges. As the world braces for the uncertainties for 2023, it’s important for nations to work towards a sustainable and resilient future for the planet. As Kristie Ebi, who studies the effects of heat at the University of Washington, said, “The major lesson is how unprepared we are. There are places with heat wave early warning and response systems. They certainly saved lives. They didn’t save enough.”

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