The warmest 13 years of average global temperatures have all occurred in the last 15 years, with 2011 marking the 10th hottest year since records began in 1850, a new report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reveals.
The latest WMO report was released amidst the ongoing climate change talks in Durban, South Africa, where international agreement on greenhouse gas reductions remains elusive.
According to the WMO, 2011 is also the warmest year recorded while the La Nina phenomenon was present â€“ a phenomenon that leads to a cooling of ocean temperatures.
According to WMO Deputy Secretary-General Jerry Lengoasa, â€œour science is solid and it proves unequivocally that the world is warming and that this warming is due to human activities.â€
Warmer weather has also contributed to more extreme weather events around the world, with James Hansen highlighting the Moscow heat wave of 2010 and the Texas heat wave of 2011 as events intensified by climate change. Furthermore, Arctic sea ice was at a record low in January due to warming global temperatures.
Yet as evidence of climate change continues to mount, major world powers still remain at a deadlock regarding emissions cuts. In particular, the United States and China have been unable to agree on binding emission cuts until the other does first. Canada, Russia, and Japan, original signatories to the Kyoto Protocol, remain unwilling to extend climate change commitments past 2012.
Meanwhile, greenhouse gases concentrations in the atmosphere continue to rise as the world grows ever closer to 2 â€“ 2.4 degrees Centigrade rise in global temperatures, levels which will have irreversible consequences on the Earthâ€™s natural systems.
Do you think the latest WMO report will have an impact on the climate talks in Durban? Is it possible for the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions even without a binding international agreement?
Image courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center: U.S heat wave, July 2011