UN Issues 'Red Alert' As Global Warming Hits Record Levels

The United Nations Weather Agency has issued a "red alert" regarding the escalating threat of global warming. Their latest report highlights record-breaking increases in greenhouse gases, land and water temperatures, and melting of glaciers and sea ice.

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The United Nations weather agency has issued a "red alert" regarding the escalating threat of global warming. The agency's latest report, released Tuesday, highlights alarming increases in greenhouse gases, land and water temperatures, and the rapid melting of glaciers and sea ice.

This comes amidst growing concerns that efforts to combat climate change are falling short.

The World Meteorological Organisation's (WMO) "State of the Global Climate" report underscores the urgent need for action, particularly in light of a key climate goal: limiting planetary warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Celeste Saulo, the agency’s secretary-general, emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating, “Never have we been so close to the 1.5°C lower limit of the Paris agreement on climate change."

According to data from the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Service, the 12 months from March 2023 to February 2024 surpassed the 1.5-degree limit, with temperatures averaging 1.56°C higher.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed deep concern, stating, “Earth’s issuing a distress call. The latest State of the Global Climate report shows a planet on the brink."

The report paints a grim picture of environmental deterioration, with over 90 per cent of ocean waters experiencing heatwave conditions, record ice loss from glaciers, and a historic low in Antarctic sea ice levels. Jonathan Overpeck, dean of the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability, described the situation as a "meltdown phase" for the planet.

Saulo underscored the interconnectedness of the climate crisis with broader issues of inequality, such as food insecurity and migration. The devastating impact of extreme weather events, including heatwaves, floods, droughts, wildfires, and tropical cyclones, was felt across all continents in 2023.

Despite the grim outlook, there is a glimmer of hope in the form of renewable energy. The report notes a nearly 50 per cent increase in renewable energy generation capacity from wind, solar, and water power since 2022, totalling 510 gigawatts.

The release of the report coincides with a gathering of climate experts and government officials in Copenhagen, Denmark, to advocate for stronger climate action.

However, Andrew Weaver, a climate scientist from the University of Victoria, lamented the perennial cycle of alarm followed by political inaction, urging decision-makers to prioritize climate policy over short-term agendas