The United Nations’ weather arm says that global warming was responsible for last year’s droughts, heat waves and heavy rains, as well as the freezing cold winters in North America and record sea ice coverage in Antarctica.
The U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says that 2013 tied with 2007 as the sixth warmest year on record, and proved that the world was still on a warming trend. This warming trend, the WMO contends, is caused by human activity and is responsible for driving extreme weather events last year, including Australia’s record-setting heat wave and the record-low temperatures in United States.
“There is no standstill in global warming,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud in a statement. “The warming of our oceans has accelerated, and at lower depths. More than 90 percent of the excess energy trapped by greenhouse gases is stored in the oceans. Levels of these greenhouse gases are at record levels, meaning that our atmosphere and oceans will continue to warm for centuries to come. The laws of physics are non-negotiable.”
According to the WMO, oceanic and atmospheric warming contributed to heat waves across the Southern Hemisphere, droughts in California and Brazil, as well as heavy rain storms and flooding in parts of Africa and Europe.
Oddly enough, warming is also responsible for the “frigid polar air [that] plummeted into parts of Europe and the southeast United States,” and “Antarctic sea ice extent [that] reached a record daily maximum.”
Global warming also meant that “Israel, Jordan, and Syria were struck by unprecedented snowfall,” according to the WMO.
The global warming debate has intensified as world leaders discuss reducing carbon dioxide emissions as a way fight global temperature rises. But skeptics point out that global temperatures have been flat for the past 17 years or so, undercutting past predictions of catastrophic global warming was near.
“Naturally occurring phenomena such as volcanic eruptions or El Niño and La Niña events have always contributed to frame our climate, influenced temperatures or caused disasters like droughts and floods,” Jarraud said.
“But many of the extreme events of 2013 were consistent with what we would expect as a result of human-induced climate change,” Jarraud added. “We saw heavier precipitation, more intense heat, and more damage from storm surges and coastal flooding as a result of sea level rise — as Typhoon Haiyan so tragically demonstrated in the Philippines.”
But claims of extreme weather have been overplayed by environmentalists and politicians, as even the U.N.’s climate bureaucracy has expressed skepticism that the weather has gotten more intense.
The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that there “is limited evidence of changes in extremes associated with other climate variables since the mid-20th century.” The IPCC also said current data shows “no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century. … No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin.”
“In summary, there continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale,” the IPCC said, adding that “that there is not enough evidence at present to suggest more than low confidence in a global-scale observed trend in drought or dryness (lack of rainfall) since the middle of the 20th century due to lack of direct observations, geographical inconsistencies in the trends.”
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