The reality of climate change is shocking, as depicted by this picture of a starving polar bear (courtesy of Kerstin Langenberger in Svalbard, and posted to her Facebook page). I debated whether or not to include this photograph, but it's all too easy to speak of 'climate change' in the abstract and refer to 'global warming' as a concept, and this image really brings home the horrific impact global warming is having on our planet and its inhabitants.
According to a new report released today entitled the State of the Climate from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and backed by more than 450 scientists from 62 countries, 2015 has been recorded as the warmest year on record and 2016 is set to top it!
A combination of greenhouse gases and one of the strongest El Niño events since at least 1950, have created average global temperatures which surpass 1C above pre-industrial levels.
Last year was record-breaking for concentrations of all three of the main greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, namely; carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O).
The Mauna Loa Observatory recorded that average concentration for the year surpassed 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in over 50 years, and CO2 levels were 3.1ppm greater than 2014 (the largest annual increase in 58 years).
These figures make it even harder to achieve the recent target set at the Paris climate summit to keep the increase in global average temperature to below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, and even make it challenging to stay under the previous target of 2 degrees.
More needs to be done, with more worldwide support for renewable energy, carbon reduction, energy efficiencies, innovation into electric vehicles and energy storage.
We’re getting there, but are we getting there fast enough to save the polar ice from melting and the oceans from warming?