Record Temperatures Will Threaten Global Food Supply, Scientists Warn

The Mediterranean region is expected to experience extensive consequences of increasing temperatures and changing precipitation patterns.
By Costas Vasilopoulos
Jun. 6, 2023 14:12 UTC

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has warned that the world will become warmer in the next five years, with aver­age near-sur­face tem­per­a­tures likely to exceed the 1.5 °C warm­ing thresh­old.

According to the WMO’s Global Annual to Decadal Update report, there is a 66 per­cent chance for the 1.5 °C limit to be crossed by 2027, while it is almost cer­tain (at a prob­a­bil­ity of 98 per­cent) that at least one of the next five years, and the five-year period from 2023 to 2027, will be the hottest on record.

A warm­ing El Niño is expected to develop in the com­ing months and this will com­bine with human-induced cli­mate change to push global tem­per­a­tures into uncharted ter­ri­tory.- Petteri Taalas, direc­tor-gen­eral, WMO

Global mean tem­per­a­tures are pre­dicted to con­tinue increas­ing, mov­ing us away fur­ther and fur­ther away from the cli­mate we are used to,” said Leon Hermanson, a sci­en­tist at Met Office, the United Kingdom’s national weather ser­vice, who led the report.

Under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, the world’s nations pledged to keep the rise in global tem­per­a­tures below 2 °C – and prefer­ably below 1.5 °C – this cen­tury com­pared to pre-indus­trial lev­els to stave off a chain reac­tion of pos­si­bly irre­versible effects on the planet.

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The mete­o­ro­log­i­cal orga­ni­za­tion attrib­uted the pro­jected surge in global tem­per­a­tures to the com­bi­na­to­r­ial effects of an expected El Niño phe­nom­e­non, a warm­ing of the ocean’s sur­face, and anthro­pogenic cli­mate change.

A warm­ing El Niño is expected to develop in the com­ing months, and this will com­bine with human-induced cli­mate change to push global tem­per­a­tures into uncharted ter­ri­tory,” said Petteri Taalas, the organ­i­sa­tion’s direc­tor-gen­eral.

This will have far-reach­ing reper­cus­sions for health, food secu­rity, water man­age­ment and the envi­ron­ment,” he added. We need to be pre­pared.”

The planet has never expe­ri­enced a rise in aver­age tem­per­a­tures above the 1.5 °C thresh­old. The high­est recorded increase in global tem­per­a­tures in pre­vi­ous years was 1.28 °C above pre-indus­trial lev­els.

The WMO also noted that El Niño typ­i­cally increases tem­per­a­tures in the year after it devel­ops, mean­ing that the effects of the expected El Niño in global tem­per­a­tures are expected to be per­ceived no sooner than 2024.

The orga­ni­za­tion nev­er­the­less clar­i­fied that the expected surge in tem­per­a­tures above the 1.5°C limit would be tem­po­rary.

This report does not mean that we will per­ma­nently exceed the 1.5 °C level spec­i­fied in the Paris Agreement, which refers to long-term warm­ing over many years,” Chris Hewitt, direc­tor of cli­mate ser­vices at the WMO, told Olive Oil Times.

However, WMO is sound­ing the alarm that we will breach the 1.5°C level on a tem­po­rary basis with increas­ing fre­quency,” he added.

Hewitt also said that the Mediterranean region is expected to expe­ri­ence exten­sive con­se­quences of the increase in tem­per­a­ture.

Petteri Taalas said at the [WMO report] press con­fer­ence that indeed Europe and the Mediterranean is one of the regions which will be impacted by ris­ing tem­per­a­tures and chang­ing pre­cip­i­ta­tion pat­terns,” he said. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change also has indi­cated this.”

Other regions, includ­ing Northern Europe, Alaska and the Sahel in Africa, will likely receive increased rain­fall in the next five years, while reduced pre­cip­i­ta­tion lev­els are fore­casted for the Amazon and parts of Australia, the WMO report said.

Meanwhile, the global stock­take,’ a com­po­nent of the Paris Agreement used to assess nations’ col­lec­tive progress toward meet­ing the agreement’s cli­mate goals, is expected to dom­i­nate the agenda in the United Nations COP28 cli­mate sum­mit sched­uled to take place in Dubai in November.

The global stock­take will pro­vide crit­i­cal infor­ma­tion for coun­tries and stake­hold­ers to see what progress has been made on meet­ing the Paris Agreement goals, as well as iden­tify any remain­ing gaps and oppor­tu­ni­ties for increased action,” said Joanna Post, the pro­gram offi­cer with the U.N. Climate Change’s inter­gov­ern­men­tal sup­port and col­lec­tive progress divi­sion.

To put it sim­ply – the global stock­take will help spur coun­tries to step up cli­mate action to avoid the worst impacts of cli­mate change,” she con­cluded.


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