According to the Copernicus Climate Change Service, 2021 was the fifth hottest year in history. And it continued the trend that the last seven years were the hottest on record, which is proving that the world is getting hotter.
For reference, 2021 was 1.1 to 1.2 degrees Celcius higher than when the industrial age began. If the world is successful and limits global warming to 1.5C, then it will still get warming over the next 28 years.
And that’s assuming the world follows through on its plan to go net-zero by 2050, which doesn’t look realistic due to inaction.
Why Is This Significant?
There’s no denying that normally fifth place isn’t something most people celebrate or mention in any capacity. However, in this case, it has a lot of importance.
Record-wise, the last seven years have been the hottest. what that should tell anyone paying attention is that something has fundamentally changed within our planet. And that something is the concentration of greenhouse gases like carbon.
These heat-trapping gases have become so abundant that it has become impossible to deny climate change unless you disregard a mountain of evidence. Yet, some actually do.
So, maybe impossible is the wrong word.
Regardless, the significance of this trend is that the world is continuing to stay at a higher than normal temperature. Seven years is a significant amount of time. It would be like your favorite baseball team winning the World Series seven times in a row.
Some might think it was luck the first few times, but eventually, there’s no denying that the team is just skilled. Climate change is no different.
This Was Europe’s Hottest Summer
While this may have only been the fifth hottest year in history, Europe had its hottest summer ever.
Multiple temperature records were set across Mediterranean nations like Italy, which saw a new temperature record of 48.8C or 119.84F. It was well above the norm, and as you might expect, it put a burden on the energy sector as residents relied on air conditioners to stay cool.
The warmer temperature also invited wetter weather. It’s a well-documented fact that warmer air holds more moisture. Nations like Germany and Belgium saw some major flooding events that left many dead.
Greenhouse Gases are Continuing to Grow
One thing that the Copernicus Climate Change Service highlighted was that the rate at which greenhouses gases were accumulating wasn’t slowing down.
Carbon dioxide levels reached a new high at 414.3 parts per million. The rate is very similar to 2020. Whereas Methane emissions reached 1,876 parts per billion, which exceeded the rate of 2020.
Note: You may think that parts per billion are larger than parts per million, but that is incorrect. 1 parts per million are equal to 1000 parts per billion.
The report highlighted that these rates were significantly higher than their counterparts two decades ago.
This is despite all of the efforts that have been put into curbing emissions. This is just more proof that governments are underdelivering when it comes to climate promises. If things don’t change, there will be serious consequences.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.