96% of Humanity has Felt the Impact of Global Warming

Environment | October 30, 2022, Sunday // 13:22|  views


Whether they realize it or not, some 7.6 billion people - 96% of humanity - have felt the impact of global warming on temperatures in the past 12 months, researchers say.

But some regions have felt it much more strongly and more often than others, according to a report by Climate Central, a climate science think tank.

People in tropical regions and on small islands surrounded by heat-absorbing oceans have been disproportionately affected by human-induced temperature increases to which they have contributed little.

Among the 1,021 cities analyzed between September 2021 and October 2022, the South Pacific capitals of Samoa and Palau experienced the most distinct climate footprints, the researchers said in the report.

Temperature spikes in these locations were typically four to five times more likely than in a hypothetical world in which global warming never occurred.

Lagos, Mexico City and Singapore are among the most heat-affected major cities, with man-made heat increasing health risks for millions of people.

Climate Central researchers, led by Principal Scientist Ben Strauss, looked for a way to bridge the gap between global warming on a planetary scale — usually expressed as the average temperature of the Earth's surface compared to an earlier reference period — and people's everyday experience.

"Diagnosing climate footprints allows people to understand that their experiences are symptoms of climate change," Strauss told AFP. "This is a warning and shows that we need to adapt."

Using seven decades of high-resolution daily temperature data from the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and two dozen climate models, Strauss and his team created a tool -- the Climate Change Index.

The tool calculates the probability that unusually warm weather in a given location on a given day is due to climate change.

For example, 26 cities experienced an increase in temperature on at least 250 of the 365 days since October 2021 that is at least three times more likely to be due to climate change.

"Unfair and Tragic"

Most of these cities are located in East Africa, Mexico, Brazil, small island nations and the Malay Archipelago, a series of about 25,000 islands belonging to Indonesia and the Philippines.

"The effect of warming is much more noticeable in the equatorial belt because there historically has been less temperature variability," Strauss told AFP.

That's why even the relatively modest increase in local temperatures caused by global warming affects the index so clearly, he explained.

"The temperatures of the islands are highly dependent on the temperature of the surrounding ocean," said Strauss, who has also mapped the projected impact of sea-level rise on coastal areas around the world.

"To see that small island nations have essentially already lost their historic climate - even as they face losing their land to rising seas - is very unfair and tragic."

The urgent need for funds to help vulnerable tropical countries adapt to climate impacts will be on the agenda when nearly 200 countries meet in 10 days at UN climate talks in Egypt.

Rich countries have yet to meet a decade-old commitment to increase climate finance for developing countries to $100 billion a year, even though the UN's IPCC estimates annual adaptation costs could reach one trillion dollars by 2050 if warming continues apace.

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Tags: global, warming, climate, people


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