“Climate collapse has begun”, warned the UN Secretary Genera

Antonio Guterres 1

The global average temperatures during the three months of the boreal summer (June-July-August) were the highest on record, the European Copernicus Observatory announced on Wednesday, for which 2023 will probably be the hottest year in history.

“ Climate collapse has begun,” lamented the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres.

Our climate is imploding faster than we can cope with, with extreme weather events affecting all corners of the planet,” he warned in a statement, recalling that “scientists have long been warning of the consequences of our dependence on fossil fuels”.

Heat waves, droughts, floods or fires hit Asia, Europe and North America during that boreal summer, in dramatic and sometimes unprecedented proportions, with loss of human life and great damage to economies and the environment.

The southern hemisphere, with heat records in the middle of the southern winter, was also affected.

“Since 120,000 years”

“The season June-July-August 2023″, which corresponds to summer in the northern hemisphere, “was by far the warmest ever recorded in the world, with a global mean temperature of 16.77°C,” Copernicus stated.

It is 0.66 °C above the average for the period 1991-2020, which already registered a rise in the planet’s average temperatures due to climate warming caused by human activity. And higher –about two tenths– of the previous record in 2019.Heat wave in Turin, Italy (Reuters)Heatwave in Turin, Italy (Reuters)

This July was the warmest month ever recorded, and now August has become the second, the observatory said.

And in the first eight months of the year, the planet’s average temperature is “only 0.01°C behind 2016, the hottest year ever recorded.”

But this record will soon fall, taking into account the forecasts and the return in the Pacific Ocean of the El Niño weather phenomenon, which will bring more warming.

“Given the excess heat at the ocean surface, 2023 is likely to be the warmest year (…) humanity has ever known,” Samantha Burgess, deputy head of the climate change service, told AFP. C3S) of Copernicus.

The Copernicus database goes back to 1940, but it can be compared to the climate of the previous millennia, established thanks to tree rings and ice cores, and synthesized in the latest report of the UN climate change experts ( IPCC).

On this basis, “the three months we have just experienced are the warmest for about 120,000 years, that is, since the beginning of human history,” Burgess said.(Reuters)(Reuters)

ocean overheating

Despite the three successive years of La Niña, the inverse phenomenon of El Niño that partly offsets the warming, the years 2015-2022 have already been the hottest ever recorded.

The overheating of the oceans, which continue to absorb 90% of the excess heat caused by human activity since the industrial era, plays a crucial role in the process.

Since April, its average surface temperature has registered unprecedented levels of heat.

“From July 31 to August 31”, that temperature “has even exceeded every day the previous record of March 2016”, according to Copernicus, reaching the unprecedented symbolic threshold of 21 °C, well above all recorded values.

“A warming of the oceans leads to warming of the atmosphere and increased humidity, leading to more intense precipitation and an increase in the energy available for tropical cyclones,” Burgess said.

This overheating also affects biodiversity: “There are fewer nutrients in the ocean (…) and less oxygen”, which threatens the survival of fauna and flora, he added.

“Temperatures will continue to rise as long as we do not close the tap on emissions,” coming largely from the combustion of coal, oil and gas, the scientist concluded.