Record hot March caps warmest 12 months on record — report

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Since June 2023, every month has been the “hottest ever” on record. Image: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire/empics/picture alliance.

The past 10 months have all been the hottest on record. The average global temperature in March was 1.68 degrees Celsius warmer than the pre-industrial average.

Europe’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said on Tuesday that March 2024 was the warmest on record, making it the tenth consecutive month to break heat records.

Last month was 0.1 degrees Celsius warmer than the previous March, and 1.68 degrees Celsius hotter than an average March between the years 1850-1900, the reference period for the pre-industrial era.

Above-average temperatures were recorded in parts of Africa, South America, Greenland and Antarctica.  Sea surface temperatures also hit a “shocking new high,” the report said.

Hottest 12-month period

The average temperature for the 12-month period ending in March was 1.58 degrees Celsius warmer than the pre-industrial average, making it the warmest 12-month period on record.

This record warmth does not necessarily mean that global temperatures have broken the 1.5-degree limit set by world leaders in Paris in 2015 as such measurements are taken in decades rather than individual years, but it does show a general trend in that direction.

“It’s the long-term trend with exceptional records that has us very concerned,” Samantha Burgess, deputy director of C3S told Reuters news agency.

“Seeing records like this — month in, month out — really shows us that our climate is changing, is changing rapidly,” she added.

Climate change and its effects have been seen across the globe. This year itself, Venezuela saw a record number of wildfires, and southern Africa has faced drought conditions. Warm waters in the southern hemisphere are causing a mass coral bleaching event.

Continue ReadingRecord hot March caps warmest 12 months on record — report

World breaches key 1.5C warming mark for record number of days

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Canadian wildfire 2023
Canadian wildfire 2023

The world is breaching a key warming threshold at a rate that has scientists concerned, a BBC analysis has found.

On about a third of days in 2023, the average global temperature was at least 1.5C higher than pre-industrial levels.

Staying below that marker long-term is widely considered crucial to avoid the most damaging impacts of climate change.

But 2023 is “on track” to be the hottest year on record, and 2024 could be hotter.

“It is a sign that we’re reaching levels we haven’t been before,” says Dr Melissa Lazenby, from the University of Sussex.

This latest finding comes after record September temperatures and a summer of extreme weather events across much of the world.

Continue ReadingWorld breaches key 1.5C warming mark for record number of days

Not convinced on the need for urgent climate action? Here’s what happens to our planet between 1.5°C and 2°C of global warming

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Rachel Warren, University of East Anglia and Sally Brown, University of Southampton

Many numbers are bandied around in climate emergency discussions. Of them, 1.5°C is perhaps the most important. At the Paris Agreement in 2015, governments agreed to limit global warming to well below 2°C and to aim for 1.5°C. By 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the UN body tasked with relaying the science of climate breakdown to the world – had made worryingly clear in a special report how much graver the consequences of the higher number would be.

Together with the University of Queensland’s Ove Hoegh-Guldberg and colleagues around the world, we’ve explored in newly published work just how much sticking to 1.5°C matters.

Climate breakdown is already harming livelihoods, cities and ecosystems. From heatwaves and droughts to cyclones and floods, devastating extreme weather events are more frequent, more intense and more unpredictable than they would be in the absence of global heating. Warming and acidifying oceans are causing severe coral bleaching to occur twice as often as in 1980, leaving many unable to recover.

Shrinking habitats are increasingly forcing wildlife into conflict with human settlements. Increasing wildfires are damaging vital carbon stores in North America and Siberia, while the advance of spring is throwing species who depend on each other out of sync.

The more we destabilise our climate, the greater the risk to human societies and ecosystems. Even at 1.5°C of global heating, tough times are in store for the living planet. But the space between 1.5°C and 2°C of heating is a crucial battleground, within which risks to humanity and ecosystems amplify rapidly.

Climate battleground

At 1.5°C of warming, about one in twenty insect and vertebrate species will disappear from half of the area they currently inhabit, as will around one in ten plants. At 2°C, this proportion doubles for plants and vertebrates. For insects, it triples.

A great many risks amplify between 1.5 and 2 degrees of warming.
Hoegh-Guldberg, Jacob, Taylor/IPCC

Such high levels of species loss will put many ecosystems across the world at risk of collapse. We rely on healthy ecosystems to pollinate crops, maintain fertile soil, prevent floods, purify water, and much more. Conserving them is essential for human survival and prosperity.

Between 1.5°C and 2°C, the number of extremely hot days increases exponentially. Some parts of the world can also expect less rain and more consecutive dry days, while others will receive more extreme floods. Collectively, this will place agriculture, water levels and human health under severe stress – especially in southern African nations, where temperatures will increase faster than the global average. The Mediterranean is another key area at particular risk above 1.5°C of heating, where increased drought will alter flora and fauna in a way without precedent in ten millennia.

At 1.5°C of warming, we could expect to lose between 70% and 90% of our coral reefs. While this would be catastrophic for the millions of ocean creatures and human livelihoods these beautiful ecosystems support, there would still be a chance of recovery in the long term if oceans warm slowly. But at 2°C of warming, we could kill 99% of reefs. To be clear, this is a line that once crossed cannot be easily uncrossed. It could mean the extinction of thousands of species.

Arctic sea ice has been a constant on our planet for hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of years. If we limit global heating to 1.5°C, there’s a 70% chance of it remaining that way. But at 2°C, some Arctic summers will be ice-free. Polar bears and other species who depend on frozen sea ice to eat and breed will be left homeless and struggling to survive.

Studies show that at 1.5°C, we could expect one metre of sea-level rise in 2300, with an extra 26cm at 2°C. However, between these two levels of global heating, the risk of the Greenland and West Antarctic Ice Sheets starting a slow process of decline dramatically increases. For the Greenland sheet, this is likeliest to happen at 1.6°C, with the Antarctic ice sheet’s tipping point hovering not far above this mark.

Polar bears depend on Arctic sea ice.

If these ice sheets melt, seas could rise by up to two metres over the next two centuries. These rises could lead to millions more people being exposed to flooding each year. Many of those living in coastal cities, deltas, or small islands will be faced with little option but to build upwards or relocate.

Way off track

The impacts of climate breakdown are accelerating. The planet has warmed by 1.1°C since 1850-79, but 0.2°C of this warming happened between 2011 and 2015 alone. The last four years were the warmest in the global temperature record.

Despite knowing all the above, many country-level commitments and action are nowhere near enough to limit warming to 2°C, let alone 1.5°C. We’re heading for 2.9°C to 3.4°C of warming. By this point, many dangerous tipping points could be crossed, leading to rainforest die-back, deadly heatwaves, and significant sea-level rise. Half of all insect and plant species are projected to disappear from more than half of the area they currently inhabit, potentially causing widespread ecosystem collapse and threatening organised human civilisation itself.

Limiting warming to 1.5°C will save the global economy trillions of dollars in the long run, even accounting for the seemingly gargantuan cost of transitioning our energy systems. But this is more than just an economic or academic issue – its a matter of life and death for millions of humans and animal species, and a severe threat to the well-being of billions.

Tackling climate breakdown is perhaps the tallest order humanity has ever faced, and there is no simple solution. The only way forward is accepting that we must fundamentally change the way we live our lives. It won’t be an easy transition, but there is no alternative if we are to preserve the well-being of humans, wildlife, and ecosystems. The coming year is vital, and there’s too much at stake not to act now.

Click here to subscribe to our climate action newsletter. Climate change is inevitable. Our response to it isn’t.The Conversation

Rachel Warren, Professor of Global Change, University of East Anglia and Sally Brown, Senior Research Fellow, University of Southampton

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Continue ReadingNot convinced on the need for urgent climate action? Here’s what happens to our planet between 1.5°C and 2°C of global warming

El Niño could push global warming past 1.5℃ – but what is it and how does it affect the weather in Europe?

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A natural weather event known as El Niño is underway in the Pacific Ocean.
jon sullivan/Shutterstock

Manoj Joshi, University of East Anglia

Scientists have warned that 2024 could mark the year when global warming exceeds 1.5℃ above pre-industrial levels. They attribute these predictions, at least in part, to the emergence of an El Niño event.

An El Niño is declared when the sea surface temperature in large parts of the central or eastern equatorial regions of the Pacific Ocean warms significantly – sometimes by as much as 2℃. This additional heat in turn warms the atmosphere. During El Niño years, this warming contributes to a temporary rise in the global temperature by a fraction of a degree.

You can listen to more articles from The Conversation, narrated by Noa, here.

El Niño primarily affects weather in the tropics. Intense downpours that would usually fall on parts of south-east Asia or eastern Australia instead fall on the west coast of South America. This change can cause major drought and flooding on different continents, affecting food production and even weather-dependent sports like cricket.

But changes to the weather in these regions can have knock-on effects all over the world. Even thousands of kilometres away in northern Europe, El Niño tends to cause colder and drier winter weather.

Yet many factors affect European weather, especially during winter. So care is needed when linking unusual weather events in Europe to El Niño.

Storm clouds over the Andaman Sea.
Storm clouds over the Andaman Sea, Thailand.
Ian Murdoch/Shutterstock

What is El Niño?

The Pacific Ocean spans over 13,000 kilometres from its eastern edge on the South American coast to its western margins near Indonesia. The sea surface temperature changes considerably over this vast distance.

Normally, the eastern edge of the Pacific Ocean is more than 5℃ colder on average than the western Pacific. This is primarily due to the upwelling of cold water near South America, a process in which colder water is pulled up from deeper down in the ocean.

However, this temperature contrast flattens or steepens every few years in a natural cycle called the El Niño southern oscillation (Enso). During this cycle, the strength of trade winds that blow westwards across the Pacific can strengthen or weaken, causing more or less cold water to upwell and flow along the equator.

We’re currently entering a period where the eastern Pacific will be warmer than it usually is – an El Niño event. Forecasts suggest that a part of the equatorial Pacific, regarded as a key indicator of Enso, has a 50% chance of warming by over 1.5℃ by the start of 2024.

How Pacific Ocean temperatures change during an El Niño event.

La Niña is the opposite phase of the cycle. It is instead characterised by cooler sea surface temperatures in these waters. This year brought an end to three successive La Niña years.

The western tropical Pacific region has some of the warmest ocean temperatures on Earth. Humid air tends to converge here, creating unstable conditions characterised by turbulent rising air known as convection by meteorologists. The result of this is towering clouds and intense rainfall.

The region with the highest ocean temperature tends to experience the greatest amount of rainfall. As the warmest ocean temperatures shift eastward during El Niño, so too does the location of maximum cloud cover and rainfall.

Each El Niño event is different. Some mainly warm the eastern Pacific Ocean, such as the 1997-98 event. Others cause more warming in the central Pacific, like in 2009-10.

How does it affect Europe’s climate?

Towering clouds and intense rains in the western Pacific create atmospheric waves known as Rossby waves. These waves extend over thousands of kilometres and travel into and along the eastward-flowing jet streams that encircle the planet’s mid-latitude regions. When the Rossby waves interact with the jet streams, they cause them to undulate.

As unsettled weather in the Pacific moves eastwards during an El Niño event, it influences the location of the peaks and troughs of these Rossby waves. This results in subtle changes in the positions of the jet streams. These alterations in the jet streams, which play a significant role in shaping weather patterns, can have notable effects on weather conditions worldwide.

Depending on the specific movement of the jet stream in a particular area, the effect can either lead to warmer or cooler weather, despite El Niño warming the global climate as a whole. El Niño tends to slightly warm Europe in summer and slightly cool northern Europe in winter.

External noise

However, a colder-than-average winter in Europe is not guaranteed during an El Niño event. Europe’s winter climate is affected by various factors beyond El Niño, including conditions in the Atlantic, the amount of Arctic sea ice and the state of the stratosphere 15-40km above us (which is itself affected by El Niño).

For instance, the quasi-biennial oscillation – a regular reversal of winds that blow high above the equator – can alter wind patterns in the stratosphere. This can subsequently affect the position of the North Atlantic storm track, which influences Europe’s winter weather.

But even then, the underlying warming trend caused by climate change is making higher temperatures more probable in all seasons. Together, these other factors make any climatic signals from El Niño harder to detect and forecast. Caution must therefore be exercised before attributing anomalies in European winter weather to El Niño alone.

Imagine weekly climate newsletter

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Manoj Joshi, Professor of Climate Dynamics, University of East Anglia

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Continue ReadingEl Niño could push global warming past 1.5℃ – but what is it and how does it affect the weather in Europe?

News review

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Universal Credit claimants ‘existing, not living’, says report

Image of cash and pre-payment meter key
Image of cash and pre-payment meter key

The Existing, not Living report, commissioned by Scotland’s largest social landlord, the Wheatley Group, spoke to tenants around the country to look at the impact of the social security system on their lives.

The research showed that 65 per cent of claimants believed that UC payment failed to give them enough money to cover the basics of life.

One tenant said of her situation: “Trying to live on £243 per month, that’s horrible.

“I’m expected to pay my council tax, gas and electricity, pay debt and rent arrears.

“It’s physically impossible to pay for all that and, of course, also your internet or some kind of mobile phone with internet, which you need to have if on UC.”

Universal Credit claimants ‘existing, not living’, says report

Unions unite to fight social care privatisation in West Lothian

THREE major unions will be launching a joint campaign to halt social care privatisation in West Lothian, they announced over the weekend.

Following the integration of health and social care in Scotland in 2014, local integration joint boards (IJBs) have run social care, with council social work departments relegated to the status of “contractor.”

The boards are made up of health board members and local councillors.

West Lothian IJB, which operates in a locale with the fastest-growing elderly population in Scotland, is considering forcing the privatisation of four care homes for the elderly, according to the Unite, GMB and Unison unions.

Unions unite to fight social care privatisation in West Lothian

Revealed: Government to legalise ‘hazardous’ accommodation for asylum seekers

The government has quietly published plans to effectively legalise “hazardous” accommodation for thousands of asylum seekers in England.

In a move labelled “shameful” and an “assault on human rights” by housing and refugee charities, a new draft law proposes removing landlords’ obligation to get a HMO (house in multiple occupation) licence if they are providing accommodation to vulnerable asylum seekers.

Campaigners say HMO licences are the primary way authorities currently ensure homes filled with large numbers of people they were not initially designed to fit do not become a major fire risk. They are normally required for all private rented properties that house five or more people from multiple households and are granted by councils if inspectors are satisfied that the building meets government guidelines, including that it isn’t dangerously overcrowded, in disrepair, damp or mouldy.

Revealed: Government to legalise ‘hazardous’ accommodation for asylum seekers

BP accused of ‘grotesque profiteering’ following bumper profits of £4bn in first three months of the year

Extinction Rebellion protests at BP
Extinction Rebellion protests at BP

OIL and gas giants were accused of “grotesque profiteering” today after BP reported that it had raked in an eye-watering £4 billion in just three months.

The mammoth profit total for the first quarter of 2023 was down from the near £5bn the energy firm pocketed in the same period last year following Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

But the combined profits of both BP and Shell have now hit a whopping £55bn over the last year as gas and electricity bills have more than doubled for Britons already struggling with 40-year high inflation and plummeting take-home pay.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “BP’s grotesque profiteering is continuing at pace.

“Profiteering is a blight on the economy which is driving prices higher, leaving workers poorer while businesses struggle to keep the lights on.”

BP accused of ‘grotesque profiteering’ following bumper profits of £4bn in first three months of the year

Unison to challenge the government’s new strike-breaking laws in the High Court

UNISON is challenging the Tory government’s latest attack on the right to strike in a two-day High Court hearing starting on Wednesday.

The public-sector union’s case was prompted by then prime minister Boris Johnson’s decision to scrap decades-old regulations preventing bosses from employing agency workers to break industrial action.

Last July’s widely condemned action was “unlawful and violates fundamental trade union rights,” Unison argued.

General secretary Christina McAnea said: “Breaking strikes with unqualified and ill-experienced agency workers doesn’t address the root causes of why people are striking and it only puts the public in danger.”

Unison to challenge the government’s new strike-breaking laws in the High Court

TUC marks 90 years since Nazis banned trade unions

THE TUC is calling today for solidarity in defence of democracy and against racism and extremism to mark the day 90 years ago that trade unions were banned in Nazi Germany.

Union offices were raided and officials and activists rounded up on May 2 1933; some were tortured and some died in concentration camps in the years that followed.

Independent trade unions were replaced with the Nazi-controlled German Labour Front, a propaganda tool for the regime and its hate-filled anti-semitic ideology.

“Trade unions are a bastion of democracy and freedom against authoritarian and violent regimes,” said the TUC, which is providing training and resources for union activists to counter racism, including anti-semitism, and attempts by the far right to recruit in workplaces.

Persecution of trade unionists continues around the world, the union body said.

TUC marks 90 years since Nazis banned trade unions

Exact number of Brits turned away at polling stations due to Voter ID will NEVER be known

The Electoral Commission has admitted it will ‘not be possible to accurately quantify’ the impact of the new rules by counting who does or doesn’t have ID at the ballot box

The number of people turned away at polling stations because they do not have Voter ID will never be known, the elections watchdog has admitted.

People will be required to show photographic ID for the first time at polling stations on Thursday.

But the Electoral Commission has admitted it will “not be possible to accurately quantify” the impact of the new rules by counting who does or doesn’t have ID at the ballot box.

Exact number of Brits turned away at polling stations due to Voter ID will NEVER be known

Oil majors’ expansion plans pay little heed to net zero

Data reveals the world’s leading oil and gas majors continue risk-laden, global expansion, despite net-zero pledges.

Analysis of exclusive fields data from GlobalData, Energy Monitor’s parent company, shows that the world’s five largest Western oil majors by revenue – BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell and TotalEnergies – are planning for a future misaligned with a net-zero pathway, as outlined by the IEA. 

The findings come despite the fact that all five companies have pledged on paper to reach net zero by 2050, and they are all based in countries that hold similar pledges on a national level. The findings also come on top of an earlier Energy Monitor investigation, which found that the oil and gas extraction plans of just 25 oil majors will produce carbon emissions that use up 90% of the world’s remaining 1.5°C carbon budget.

In the case of the five Western oil majors, the first key net-zero misalignment is the sheer size of the companies’ expansion plans. Rather than entering the period of managed decline that the IEA recommends should occur to be aligned with net zero by 2050, data shows that the five companies are in the process of developing 157 new fields, on top of the 1,350 they already operate. These upcoming fields would add a massive 122 billion barrels of oil equivalent (bboe) to the 299 bboe remaining in the five companies’ already-operating fields. 

Oil majors’ expansion plans pay little heed to net zero

Moment motorist drives through Just Stop Oil protesters blocking road

A motorist drove through Just Stop Oil protesters blocking a road in north London on Tuesday morning (2 May), colliding with a person.

“It went over my foot,” a member of the group can be heard saying.

The demonstration was part of Just Stop Oil’s vow to march every weekday and on Saturdays from 24 April to call on the government to stop licensing any new fossil fuel projects in the UK.

Moment motorist drives through Just Stop Oil protesters blocking road

Just Stop Oil responds after driver ‘runs over woman’ during protest

The car wasn't hanging around for Just Stop Oil's protest. Credit: Twitter/Just Stop Oil
The car wasn’t hanging around for Just Stop Oil’s protest. Credit: Twitter/Just Stop Oil

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police told LADbible: “Police are appealing for witnesses and dash cam footage after a person was involved in a collision with a vehicle on Holloway Road, Islington, whilst engaged in a protest, at around 10:00hrs, today Tuesday 2 May.

“The incident was brought to police attention after being circulated on social media and shows the person being involved in collision with a grey Renault Megane.

“If you were the person or have any information about the incident please report by calling 101, tweeting @MetCC or online at”

After the footage went viral, Just Stop Oil shared the video and commented how they believe that ‘inflammatory language’ from politicians and commentators has caused this end result.

The group tweeted: “After weeks of inflammatory language from politicians and right-wing media personalities, a car has finally rammed into a peaceful protest.

“Are you about to comment ‘Good!’ or ‘Stay out of the road?’

“Are you sure that the side you want to pick is the side of violence, of the repression of protest?

“What we do now determines the fate of humanity.

Just Stop Oil responds after driver ‘runs over woman’ during protest

Global ocean temperatures spike to record levels as El Niño nears

Since mid-March, the world’s oceans have been hotter than at anytime since at least 1982, raising concerns among some climate experts about accelerated warming.

Why it matters: Hotter oceans are hugely consequential for land areas, since they can contribute to more frequent and severe extreme weather and climate events, from deluges to heat waves.

  • In addition, the temperature spike could be a sign that warming is speeding up in ways that climate models failed to anticipate.

Global ocean temperatures spike to record levels as El Niño nears

Global warming is to blame for devastating East Africa drought, scientists believe

The devastating drought tearing through the Horn of Africa would not have happened if it wasn’t for human-driven climate change.

The region has been left completely devoid of water – forcing desperate families to dig several metres into arid river beds to find a trickle – after months of failed rainy seasons delivered the worst drought in 40 years.

The situation has also driven conflict, with more than four million people now in need of humanitarian aid.

A cohort of 19 researchers from seven countries studied if climate change was to blame, ruling that the longer rainy season has become drier, while the short rainy season has become wetter all due to changes in global temperatures.

They branded the drought “one of a kind”, adding that climtae change had made agricultural drought one hundred times more likely.

Global warming is to blame for devastating East Africa drought, scientists believe

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