monster El Nino firing off in the Pacific. A massive fossil fuel
driven accumulation of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere pushing
CO2 levels well above 400 parts per million. The contribution of
other greenhouse gasses pushing the total global heat forcing into
the range of 485 parts per million CO2e. Given this stark context, we
knew the numbers were probably going to be bad. We just didn’t know
how bad. And, looking at the initial measures coming in, we can
definitely say that this is serious.
to today’s report from Japan’s Meteorological Agency, global
temperatures jumped by a ridiculous 0.36 degrees Celsius from the
period of December 2014 — the previous hottest December in the
global climate record — through December 2015 — the new hottest
December by one heck of a long shot. To put such an amazing
year-on-year monthly jump in global temperatures into context, the
average decadal rate of global temperature increase has been in the
range of 0.15 C every ten years for the past three and a half
decades. It’s as if you lumped 20 years of human forced warming all
into one 12 month differential.
Meteorological Agency shows a terrifyingly sharp jump in global
temperatures for the month of December, 2015. Image Source: JMA.)
a look at this amazing monthly jump in global temperatures in terms
of longer timeframes, we find that December of 2015 came in at 1.05 C
above the 20th Century Average and a terrifying (yes, no other word
can describe) 1.42 C departure from average temperatures at the start
of the record during 1890.
world is now exploring monthly global temperature averages that are
hitting very close to a dangerous 1.5 C above preindustrial levels.
And though these numbers do not reflect yearly averages that will
probably be much lower — in the range of 1 to 1.2 C above 1880 for
2015 and 2016 — we should be very clear that such high readings
remain cause for serious concern. Concern for the potential that 2016
may also see continued new record hot annual temperatures on top of
previous record hot years 2014 and and 2015. And concern that we may
well be just one more strong El Nino away from breaking through or
coming dangerously close to the 1.5 C annual average temperature
is cause here for concern and there is certainly some cause for
alarm. Alarm in the sense that the world really needs to be ever-more
serious about reducing global fossil fuel emissions to near zero as
rapidly as possible. Otherwise, we might well break 2 C — not
before 2100, but before 2050.