The United Nations World Meteorological Organization revealed on Monday that there is a 50% chance the global average surface temperature will exceed 1.5°C above the preindustrial average for the first time in a single year in the coming five, Axios reported.
The WMO report was led by the United Kingdom’s meteorological office (Met), an arm of the UN’s specialized agency, with contributions from climate centers in the United States, Australia, Denmark, and other nations.
Scientists in the study emphasized that reaching 1.5°C in a single year would not be the same threshold detailed in the Paris Climate Accords, which details a consistent hitting of the number over an extended period.
Further, the report does not conclude that the 1.5-degree target will be breached over the long term. However, by reaching it once, maintaining the number becomes more likely.
WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas warned in a statement following his group’s report that the figure “is not some random statistic.”
“It is rather an indicator of the point at which climate impacts will become increasingly harmful for people and indeed the entire planet,” he added.
Studies have shown that if the 1.5°C number were to remain for an extended period, severe consequences like the loss of warm-water coral reefs, the flooding of small island nations, and an increase in deadly heatwaves around the world could accelerate, according to Axios.
Senior Met Office scientist Leon Hermanson, who led the report, told BBC that an evident rise in global temperature is visible if you compare the current projections with those of 1850-1900.
“What it means is that we’re approaching 1.5C – we’re not there yet, but we’re getting close,” he said. “Time is running out for the strong action which we need now.”
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