2016 was officially the hottest year on record thanks to alarming rates of climate change and global warming. From early reports, it seems like 2017 is on track to continue with the trend of severe weather that we witnessed last year. The earth has now reached uncharted territory.
The State of the Earth’s Climate in 2016
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recently released their 2016 climate assessment reporting the unprecedented heat our earth experienced last year. The report also shared findings on the low ice at the North and South Poles and rising sea levels. 2016 was the hottest year dating back to 1880 by thermometer measurements. Scientific research says the world has not been this warm for 115,000 years and hasn’t seen levels of carbon dioxide this high for over 4,000,000 years.
2016 was an El Nino year, which contributed to the high heat levels. However, the WMO assessment shows that global warming due to emissions from human activities is still largely to blame for the increased heat.
Trends Going into 2017
Now that the effects of El Nino are beginning to wane, researchers are more certain that climate change is the true cause behind severe weather events. In the early months of 2017, we have still experienced extreme weather such as unusually high temperatures in the United States in February, prolonged and extreme heat waves in Australia, and polar heatwaves decreasing ice covers at the poles to record lows. The director of the WMO’s world climate research program, David Carlson, explained, “Even without a strong El Niño in 2017, we are seeing other remarkable changes across the planet that are challenging the limits of our understanding of the climate system. We are now in truly uncharted territory.”
What the President Has to Say About it
While the earth’s climate moves into uncharted territory, the United States has one of the most powerful and ignorant leaders in charge of the response to climate change. Trump has long been known as a climate change denier, even going so far as to state that climate change was a hoax invented by the Chinese. In recent months, Trump has backtracked on his statement and has admitted that climate change is real. However, he continues to affirm that we have no idea what is causing climate change and what the effects will be long term. This is perhaps more dangerous than his laughable remark that the Chinese government invented climate change. Trump is now supporting the erroneous and dangerous lie that scientists don’t know what is causing climate change.
Research Responds to the President
Professor Sir Robert Watson, a climate scientist at the University of East Anglia and former head of the UN climate science panel expressed his frustration with the current American president. He said, “While the data show an ever increasing impact of human activities on the climate system, the Trump administration and senior Republicans in Congress continue to bury their heads in the sand. Our children and grandchildren will look back on the climate deniers and ask how they could have sacrificed the planet for the sake of cheap fossil fuel energy, when the cost of inaction exceeds the cost of a transition to a low-carbon economy.”
Researchers around the globe echo Professor Watson’s statements. “The need for concerted action on climate change has never been so stark nor the stakes so high,” explained Professor David Reay, an emissions expert at the University of Edinburgh. The WMO’s secretary general, Petteri Taalas, agreed with his colleagues in the United Kingdom. Taalas worries that the Trump administration’s plans to cut budgets and programs dedicated to climate change research could be catastrophic. Taalas said, “Continued investment in climate research and observations is vital if our scientific knowledge is to keep pace with the rapid rate of climate change.” Without that knowledge, we could be looking at a losing battle against climate change.