A group of US-based scientists say 2022 tied for the fifth hottest year on record, continuing a trend of rising global temperatures and extreme weather caused by the burning of coal, oil and gas.
On Thursday, scientists with the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the past nine years have been the warmest since modern records began in 1880.
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“Since the mid-1970s, you’ve seen this relentless increase in temperature, and that’s totally robust to all the different methodologies,” said NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies Director Gavin Schmidt.
As climate change pummels millions of people around the world with heat waves, flooding, drought and wildfires, scientists say governments are falling far short of what is needed to avoid the most devastating impacts of global warming and limit the temperature increase to 1.5C.
“At the rate that we’re going, it’s not going to take more than two decades to get us to that, and the only way that we’re not going to do that is if we stop putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere,” Schmidt said.
Scientists also said that 2023 would likely be warmer than 2022, which benefitted from a La Nina weather system that typically results in a slight decrease in global temperatures.
Berkeley Earth, a nonprofit group of independent scientists, also noted that 2022 was the hottest year on record for 28 countries, including China, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Germany and New Zealand.
A withering heatwave scorched European countries such as the UK, Spain and France, killing hundreds of people and fuelling wildfires.
Scientists also found that the heatwaves that baked South Asia in 2022 were 30 times more likely because of climate change.
A report by the United Nations and Red Cross released in October found that 70,000 people were killed by heatwaves from 2010 to 2019.
The threat of extreme heat will continue to grow as global temperatures rise with adverse impacts often mapping onto social and economic inequalities.
In Pakistan, cataclysmic summer floods inundated more than a third of the country, killing more than 1,700 people, sweeping away infrastructure and causing more than $30bn in damage.
A UN report in December found that more than 240,000 people remained displaced as a result of the flooding. Millions of people were able to return to their homes but faced shortages of food and medicine.
“What we’re seeing is our warming climate,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said. “It’s warning all of us. Forest fires are intensifying. Hurricanes are getting stronger. Droughts are wreaking havoc. Sea levels are rising. Extreme weather patterns threaten our wellbeing across this planet.”