Temperature rises and extreme weather

Heating up

Fever is an early and usually reliable sign of illness – one of the first things any doctor looks for when a person is not feeling well.

Our planet has a fever

Specialist researchers at Britain's University of East Anglia have put together all the available data to produce a temperature chart for the last millennium.
The warmest year on record was 1998, while the ten warmest years globally have all occurred in the last decade and half.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has also said that most of the observed warming over the last 50 years "is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations."

The most significant of these gases is carbon dioxide (CO2). And the single biggest source of it – 37% of all emissions worldwide – is the carbon-rich coal burnt in power plants.

The global average temperature has increased by about 0.7°C in the last hundred years, according to the European Environment Agency (EEA) in a recent 2004 report Impacts of Europe's changing climate.

The IPCC has predicted that temperatures will rise by up to 5.8°C globally by the end of this century.

These, clearly, are temperature changes that can be felt. And way too much for safety.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Adam Oswell
Cracked, dry earth is all that is left in many of the rivers and creeks as a result of extreme drought conditions. Western New South Wales, Australia.
© WWF-Canon / Adam Oswell

The main feature...is the dramatic rise in temperatures during the 20th century, making it the warmest of the millennium.

Phil Jones, Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia


The trend is relentlessly upwards. But what are the consequences?


The impacts of global warming are evident even now – from the poles to the equator.

Coral reefs are bleached due to increasing sea temperatures; alpine forests struggle to spread to higher, cooler locations; polar bears are under pressure as ice shrinks; glaciers melt all over the world.

WWF believes that the future temperature rise should be kept well below 2°C to avoid dangerous climate change.
Heatwaves kill more people, faster

At first glance, the effect of global warming seems chaotic: storms and floods as well as drought; even actual cooling in some locations.
But nothing could be more stark or more alarming or more intuitive than the warnings being given about heatwaves.
Heatwaves can kill more people in a shorter time than almost any other climate event.

In Paris - not a city thought of as vulnerable to the elements - 3,500 people are estimated to have died directly from heat in August 2003. In total, the heat wave claimed close to 15,000 lives across France.

The 2004 EEA report, one of the first of its kind about the impact of global warming in Europe, says the average number of climate-related disasters each year doubled over the 1990s compared to the previous decade.

The estimated cost of the increasing climate-related disasters has now reached: $11 billion a year. It’s not just the mercury that's rising.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Michel Gunther
Drought-stricken land.
© WWF-Canon / Michel Gunther
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The Sun.
© Anotn VORAUER

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