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2019 concludes decade of 'exceptional global heat and high-impact weather'

5 December 2019 5:18 PM
Tags:
World Meteorological Organization
climate change
The State of the Global Climate

The World Meteorological Organization says 2019 is set to be second or third warmest year on record.

The year 2019 concludes a decade of exceptional global heat and high-impact weather, says the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in its Provisional Statement on the State of the Global Climate.

It says rising temperatures, retreating ice and record sea levels are driven by greenhouse gases resulting from human activity. Since the 1980s, each successive decade has been warmer than any preceding decade since 1850.

RELATED: 'Climate change has arrived, earlier than we thought'

John Maytham gets the input of Piotr Wolski, a hydro-climatologist at the Climate System Analysis Group at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

Wolski says the dire findings of the WMO report are not unexpected.

For 20 or 30 years we've been worrying about this and now we see the impact of climate change from day to day.

Piotr Wolski, Hydro-climatologist - UCT Climate System Analysis Group

We're exceeding records more frequently now and the problem is it's not likely to stop very soon.

Piotr Wolski, Hydro-climatologist - UCT Climate System Analysis Group

He says the "good news" that carbon dioxide emissions are decreasing a little in some countries (the US and certain European countries) is tempered by their replacement with other emissions.

This is when you look at emissions from coal and they are usually replaced by emissions from natural gas and oil so, overall, the emissions are still increasing.

Piotr Wolski, Hydro-climatologist - UCT Climate System Analysis Group

The problem is we are dealing with long-term processes here so even if we stop increasing emissions, if we just stay on the same level, the planet still will be warming in the next decade. We have to wait a good couple of decades before it will start cooling down, if not hundreds of years.

Piotr Wolski, Hydro-climatologist - UCT Climate System Analysis Group

WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas has said the only solution is to get rid of fossil fuels in power production, industry and transportation. Is this even remotely possible?

It's a very depressing thing to discuss because it's very difficult to propose some ways of getting out of this conundrum.

Piotr Wolski, Hydro-climatologist - UCT Climate System Analysis Group

We are in a way addicted to fossil fuels and it's not an easy thing to change.

Piotr Wolski, Hydro-climatologist - UCT Climate System Analysis Group

It requires a different thinking from society, from humans in general... It seems that if we really want to solve this problem we have to change the way we live.

Piotr Wolski, Hydro-climatologist - UCT Climate System Analysis Group

Listen to the sobering conversation in the audio below:


5 December 2019 5:18 PM
Tags:
World Meteorological Organization
climate change
The State of the Global Climate

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