On November 18, 2023, the global mean temperature briefly exceeded 2.0 degrees Celsius (2.06) for the first time in recorded history, exceeding the IPCC 1850-1990 baseline (considered pre-industrial).
The terrifying rise is temporary, according to climate scientists I follow. The long-term average is below 1.5 degrees Celsius, currently at 1.3 C; however, with record-high climate-warming gases pouring into the atmosphere, even that temperature will rise.
And, as hot as the summer could be, the worst might be yet to come. Atmospheric scientist David Karoly at the University of Melbourne, who was a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says that the biggest impact of El Niño is likely to be felt in the summer of 2024–25. “We know that the impact on temperatures associated with El Niño happens the year after the event,” says Karoly.
Two data sets, one by Doctor Elliott Jacobson and one by Leon Simons, confirmed the breach.
This is what unchartered territory looks like. Let’s hope it is not too late to prevent the worst impacts.
‘No one wants to be right about this’: climate scientists’ horror and exasperation as global predictions play out.
We knew by the mid-1990s that lurking in the tails of our climate model projections were monsters: monstrous heatwaves, catastrophic extreme rainfall and floods, subcontinental-scale wildfires, rapid ice sheet collapse raising sea level metres within a century. We knew – just like we know gravity – that Australia’s Great Barrier Reef could be one of the earliest victims of uncontained global warming.
But as today’s monstrous, deadly heatwaves overtake large parts of Asia, Europe and North America with temperatures the likes of which we have never experienced, we find even 1.2C of global warming isn’t safe.
Driving all this is the fossil fuel industry. Enabling it are political leaders unwilling to bring this industry under control and who promote policies such as offsetting and massive gas expansion that simply enable this industry to continue.
The Washington Post (this article is not behind a paywall) is the first mainstream publication to report on the breach (as far as I know).
Preliminary data show global temperatures averaged more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above a historic norm, from a time before humans started consuming fossil fuels and emitting planet-warming greenhouse gases.
That does not mean efforts to limit global warming have failed — yet. Temperatures would have to surpass the 2-degree benchmark for months and years at a time before scientists consider it breached.
But it’s a striking reminder that the climate is moving into uncharted territory. Friday marked the first time that everyday fluctuations around global temperature norms, which have been steadily increasing for decades, swung the planet beyond the dangerous threshold. It occurs after months of record warmth that have stunned many scientists, defying some expectations of how quickly temperatures would accelerate this year.
Will televised media report on this news? My vote is hell no to the no.