Record sea level rises and devastating floods, storms, heatwaves and wildfires are recorded as climate change impacts grow, says a UN report by The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) which warns that the effects of global warming are accelerating.
The WMO’s state of the climate 2018 report gives a damning account of record greenhouse gases driving global temperatures to increasingly dangerous levels. Increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is at new highs, sea levels are rising at a faster rate as ice sheets melt, heating of oceans continues and the world’s glaciers in retreat.
Impacts have already been seen in 2019, with Tropical Cyclone Idai wreaking devastation in south-east Africa. WMO secretary general Doctor Petteri Taalas said Idai ‘may turn out to be one of the deadliest weather-related disasters to hit the southern hemisphere’.
In 2018, about 35 million people worldwide were hit by flooding and there were 14 ‘billion-dollar disasters’ in the US, including Hurricane Florence and Michael. Super Typhoon Mangkhut affected 2.4 million people and killed at least 134, mainly in the Philippines. More than 1,600 deaths were associated with intense heatwaves and wildfires in Europe, Japan and the US, while Kerala in India suffered the heaviest rainfall and worst flooding in nearly a century.
Sea level rises are accelerating, with the global average 3.7mm higher in 2018 than in 2017. If this trend continues the sea level rise could reach 65cm by 2100, creating an existential threat to small island nation states and displacing many millions of people.