November 8th ushered in the era of Donald Trump, but it was also supposed to symbolize the beginning of a new cooperative approach to dealing with climate change. Unfortunately that has largely been ignored. Donald Trump overshadowed representatives meeting from around the world in Morocco for the 22nd UN Climate Summit, Cop22. Cop22 aimed to continue the work that was started at the Paris Climate Accords, specifically limiting climate change to a ceiling of 2 degrees celsius and form comprehensive solutions to climate change problems.
On November 8th, the World Meteorological Organization WMO Cop22 released a report which laid out a fairly grim outlook for the future. And even worse it has been completely ignored, lost in all the Donald Trump hype.
The WMO report stated 2011-2015 was the hottest five years on record and 2016 is expected to continue that trend. As of 2015 that shift already represents almost an entire degree hotter compared to the early 20th century and most of that shift has occurred in the later half of the 20th century. This has had an enormous impact on sea ice levels which have dropped to 28% below the average. Which has a wide range of consequences such as massive glacial shifts or the warming loop created when less ice is present to reflect the heat from sun out of the atmosphere, which furthers glacial melt.
These trends alone are troubling enough, but increased wildfire activity and extreme weather events have sprouted up as well. Most notably to most Americans hurricane Matthew which killed 546 people and injured 431. China experienced record flooding in the Yangtze basin, the most significant since 1999, which caused over $14 billion in damage and killed 310 people. Countries all across the globe experienced record breaking weather events of all kind, but above average intensity and therefore cost, in both dollars and human life, seems to be the norm.
Climate change is here to stay, the scientific community could not yell it any louder, and the data proves time and time again. The WMO report is not hyperbole. Climate change is the lived experiences of millions of people all across the globe. The consequences are real and if the reception to the WMO report is any indication, things won’t get better any time soon.