Carbon concentrations hit record levels

Zimbabwe, along with the rest of Southern Africa, is warming at a rate much faster than the global average, which could result in frequent and more severe climate-related disasters, a new report shows.

The World Meteorological Organisation WMO) Statement on the State of the Global Climate said SADC temperatures for 2019 were more than 2 percent above average. Large parts of Australia, Alaska and northern Russia also reported similar trends.

The WMO report, released on March 11, showed record increases in global average temperatures as concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached new record levels also.

It said 2019 was the second warmest year on record, with world temperatures averaging 1,1 percent above pre-industrial levels. Only 2016 was hotter.

The past five years are the five warmest on record, WMO stated, and the past decade, 2010–2019, is also the warmest on record. Since the 1980s, each successive decade has been warmer than any preceding one since 1850.

The report is an annual, comprehensive overview of the latest information from the world’s meteorological services and other key institutions.

It’s an important record of the magnitude and speed of changes to global climate, drawing on the latest data from across the fields of climate science, say experts.

In 2019, the impacts of climate change played out through extreme and abnormal weather, with tropical cyclones continuing to wreak havoc. The most severe cyclone impact throughout the world was in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, when Cyclone Idai hit in mid-March, killing more than 900 people

In South Africa, around 70 people died in KwaZulu-Natal province last April after daily rainfall exceeded 200mm in places.

Furthermore, much of Southern Africa also experienced below-average rainfall in the early part of the 2019/2020 rainy season, following a poor season too the previous summer, which left millions of people in Zimbabwe alone needing food aid.

According to the WMO, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hit a record level of 407,8 parts per million in 2018 and continued to rise in 2019. The upper safe limit for atmospheric carbon concentrations is around 350 parts per million.

Concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide, the other two potent greenhouse gases, also hit new highs, spiking, respectively, 259 percent and 123 percent of pre-industrial levels. Increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are a major driver of climate change.

Humans drive climate change through the production of too much greenhouse gases from activities such as deforestation, electricity generation and others. Last year, world emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels reached a record 36.6 billion tonnes, half of which is soaked up by oceans and trees.

But even oceans seem overwhelmed. Oceans absorb around 90 percent of the heat that is trapped in the Earth from higher carbon emissions. Ocean heat content, which is a measure of this heat accumulation, reached record highs last year.

Now as the ocean warms it expands and sea levels rise, which is causing some lands to disappear.

Global climate projections show that under all scenarios, temperatures will continue to warm — and years such as 2019 will become the norm this decade.

The report is intended to inform decisions around the world on adaptation to, and mitigation of, climate change, scientists say.

We are currently way off track to meeting either the 1.5 °C or 2 °C targets that the Paris Agreement calls for,” said UN secretary general António Guterres.

“We need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050. And for that, we need political will and urgent action to set a different path.”

Mr Guterres added: “We need more ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance . . . that is the only way to ensure a safer, more prosperous and sustainable future for all people on a healthy planet.”

God is faithful.–

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