Climbing the Climate Crisis: 1.5°C to Disaster

As if to paraphrase a song by the rock group AC/DC, the planet is entering climate hell after reaching a shocking new milestone: according to the data, it has experienced 12 months of unprecedented heat. The heat waves of recent months continue to set impressive records, according to the Copernicus program, the European Union’s climate monitoring service.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said this was the “moment of truth” for the fight against climate change as he announced a comprehensive plan to reduce emissions, improve resilience, reform financial flows and tackle the industry of fossil fuels, because the direction in which humanity and the planet are going is leading us to a dark and hostile place for life as we know it today, a true climate hell.

“We are not the dinosaurs. We are the meteor. We are not only in danger, we are the danger. But we are also the solution,” said the UN Secretary General. While Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus program, commented that the 12-month hot streak was “shocking but not surprising” and also warned that the worst is yet to come, given man-made climate change. Unless planet-warming fossil fuel pollution is significantly reduced, “these warm months will be considered relatively cold in the future,” he claimed.

These warnings about a possible climate hell are not given at random. The WMO report predicts that global temperatures in the period 2024-2028 will be 1.1-1.9°C higher per year compared to the reference period 1850-1900 and there is an 80% probability that the global average annual temperature increase exceeds 1.5°C in the next five years.

This is striking because the Paris Agreement suggested that it would take several decades to reach this terrifying figure, but according to the World Meteorological Organization, this increase is not only possible but inevitable due to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming of the planet in general.

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Copernicus data shows that every month since July 2023, temperatures have been at least 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial levels, and the global average temperature over the past year was 1.63 degrees warmer than those levels.

“We are playing Russian roulette with our planet,” Guterres stated. “We need an exit ramp from the highway that leads us straight to climate hell. The good news is that we can control the steering wheel. The battle to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees will be won or lost in the 2020s, depending on how today’s leaders act.”

Guterres, for the first time in United Nations history, publicly called for a global ban on advertising of fossil fuel products and called on world leaders to take immediate action to address the climate crisis. (G20 countries produce 80% of global emissions and will be responsible for the future Road to Climate Hell).

“Fossil fuels must be phased out by ending financial subsidies, disinvestment, reduced advertising and misinformation. Fossil fuel companies must use huge profits to lead energy transition,” commented the Secretary General of the United Nations, also stating that many in the oil and gas industry have “blatantly painted green” by actively trying to delay measures to combat climate change, accompanied by advertising and public relations companies.

Unprecedented heat waves will not be the only thing we will have to face. Warmer air and oceans also bring heavier rain and destructive storms, like those that hit Brazil, the United States and even the United Arab Emirates. Every tenth of a degree of warming exposes more people to dangerous and potentially deadly heat. Guterres concluded: “We cannot accept a future in which the rich are sheltered in air-conditioned bubbles while the rest of humanity endures climate hell on uninhabitable lands.”

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