The Paris climate deal has not come a day too soon, but fears are that even if the global community takes concerted action to reduce emission of greenhouse gases over the next 15 years, the damage already done may take several decades, if not centuries, to undo. With the concentrations of solar heat-trapping carbon dioxide and methane increasing in ruway fashion in the atmosphere, planet Earth is warming up fast. It seems to be getting hotter each year, if recent trends are anything to go by. From the data released separately by the US space agency SA and its tiol Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently, it transpires that last year was the hottest since reliable record-keeping began, breaking all records of the preceding year 2014. Overall, 2015 was 0.13 degrees Celsius warmer than 2014 and 0.9 degrees Celsius above the 20th century average, which is a substantial rise according to SA. Though the El Nino weather pattern caused Pacific ocean waters to heat up towards the end of last year, the fact that mean temperature records were set in as many as 10 out of 12 months was a worrying development. With the El Nino phenomenon still continuing and the oceans said to be trapping more heat than ever before, some meteorologists believe the current year may set yet another record in rising temperatures. They have also pointed to the increasing frequency of extreme weather events last year like Hurricane Patricia and major anomalies like very cold temperatures in the North Atlantic ocean and destabilisation of a sector of Greenland. This trend is likely to continue in 2016 as well with a super snowstorm presently hitting the US east coast and causing massive dislocation in several of its southern states. When more than 150 world leaders signed the Paris climate deal on December 12 last, the target was set not to allow the Earth to heat up by more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures, and if possible, limit the warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. But the temperature records set last year show that the warming has already reached half way to 2 degrees Celsius. Now the multi-billion dollar questions are — can the world community muster enough will and resources to quit burning fossil fuels by the middle of this century and thereby switch over to a zero-carbon economy? Will rich, developed tions really get down to helping poor tions pay for green technology and climate adaptation measures, starting with the annual 100 billion dollars fund commitment, which is not legally binding? As it stands today, even if all 195 tions make good on their commitments in the Paris accord, average global temperatures will still be up by nearly 3 degrees Celsius by the end of the 21st century, with unforeseen catastrophic consequences.
The Hot Earth