On May 17, 2023, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) published a report and warned that the hottest summer in history awaits. Also, American meteorologists said that El Niño will develop this summer with a chance over 90 percent, ending the last three years of La Niña conditions. The scientific anticipations about another extremely hot summer rises people’s anxiety through the roof.
El Niño and La Niña are natural climate patterns that occur in the Pacific Ocean, which later influence the climate of the entire globe. When El Niño occurs, the warm sea water in the Pacific Ocean spreads out towards the coasts of the Americas, whereas the cold water remains at the bottom of the ocean. The warm water on the surface releases more heat into the atmosphere and raises the global temperature by 0.2 degrees Celsius. La Niña, on the other hand, piles the warm water around the coasts of Asia and raises the sea level. Resultingly, the cold water rises to the surface of the American continents, cooling the global temperature by 0.2 degrees Celsius.
For the past three years, La Niña was in action. However, even with the cooling effect of La Niña, the statistics identified that the last eight years were the eight warmest years ever recorded. Accordingly, many parts of the world lived through particularly hot summers for this period. For example, North America was hit by the most extreme summer heatwave it has ever experienced in 2021. The ghastly heat easily squashed the roads and endangered people’s lives across the country. China also experienced the most severe heatwave ever documented, for over 70 consecutive days last year. Moreover, Europe also has been suffering unusual heatwaves during the summers in recent years. Last July, the temperature of the United Kingdom rose over 40 degrees Celsius for the first time in history. Researchers explained that there is no chance that such a high temperature is natural, considering the normal climate of the UK. They added that it clearly is an impact of climate change. Additionally, the Horn of Africa saw the worst drought in 40 years earlier this year and is currently under flash flooding due to the sudden excessive rainfall. Abnormal climates like this have been occurring in different corners of the planet, becoming more and more frequent and severely damaging.
As the meteorologists expect El Niño back in place later this year, this summer is anticipated to be one of the hottest on record. Furthermore, the next five years are highly likely to be the five warmest years on record, according to the WMO. Given the fact that the previous eight years being the warmest years in history and the latest anticipation that the upcoming five years would be the new warmest years on record, the planet is expected to have the warmest 13 years in a row by 2027. What is more worrisome is that there is no guarantee that the years after 2027 will be less warm but could be warmer than the predecessors.
In 2015, the international community vowed to prevent the worst climate scenario, ratifying the Paris Climate Agreement. One of the main goals was to avoid the annual average global temperature rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius in comparison with the preindustrial era. Eight years past, the annual average temperature of the Earth rose by 1.1 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial annual average temperature. The WMO presumes that the global temperature will exceed the 1.5-degree target in the next five years. The organization has a positive outlook that such a high temperature will only be a temporary occurrence. However, it warned that the chance of the frequency increasing, eventually making the 1.5-degree increase a long-term phenomenon.
At this point, arguing about climate change is meaningless because it is real and is in progress right now. The current climate situation does not seem hopeful, and it is even more devastating to think of the aftermath of the temperature rise and excessive natural disaster coming. However, if the world can suppress further progression of the climate change, the worst climate scenario is still preventable. What is desirable is to discuss how the climate change can be better dealt with.