Natural disasters increase until 2060
21 Nov 2017
Climate change will lead to an increase in natural disasters until at least 2060, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).
The WMO presented its latest reports on atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations at the opening ceremony of the United Nations climate change negotiations.
Its Secretary-General Petteri Taalas told delegates annual average concentrations of carbon dioxide exceeded 403 parts per million last year.
“Emissions are levelling out, but concentrations – because CO2 remains in the atmosphere – increased at a record pace from 2015 to 2016.
“[Last year] was the warmest on record – 1.1 degrees above the pre-industrial period, partly due to a strong El Nino event. [This year] is expected to be one of the three warmest years on record, and the warmest not influenced by El Nino.
“The last five-year average global temperature is expected to be the highest on record.”
Mr Taalas says the increase in global temperature is accompanied by other far-reaching changes.
“Sea surface and ocean temperatures are among the warmest on record. Global sea levels continue to rise, so far by 26cm.
“Arctic and more recently Antarctic sea-ice extent continues shrinking. Ocean acidification threatens marine ecosystems and fisheries, and coral reefs are bleaching.
“The North Atlantic hurricane season broke records and led to massive loss and damage in the Caribbean and US. There were major monsoon floods in South Asia and continuing severe drought in east Africa.
“These events demonstrate the power of the climate system to affect the wellbeing of people, disrupt natural ecosystems, threaten food security and trigger displacement and migration.
“Due to the inertia of the climate system, we expect to see the negative trends with a growing [number] of disasters to continue until the 2060s.”
Mr Taalas calls for “greater ambition” in climate mitigation.
“We have a couple of decades to carry out a considerable change in our energy, transport and dietary systems to avoid major problems for future generations.”