Extreme weather affected 62 million people in 2018 and displaced two million as of September that year, according to the latest in an annual series of State of the Climate reports released Thursday by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
“The physical signs and socio-economic impacts of climate change are accelerating, as record greenhouse gas concentrations drive global temperatures towards increasingly dangerous levels,” the UN agency wrote in a release. “The start of this year has also seen warm record daily winter temperatures in Europe, unusual cold in North America, and searing heat waves in Australia. Arctic and Antarctic ice extent is yet again well below average.”
“Since the statement was first published, climate science has achieved an unprecedented degree of robustness, providing authoritative evidence of global temperature increase and associated features such as accelerating sea level rise, shrinking sea ice, glacier retreat, and extreme events such as heat waves,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
And “extreme weather has continued in the early 2019, most recently with Tropical Cyclone Idai, which caused devastating floods and tragic loss of life in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi,” he added. “It may turn out to be one of the deadliest weather-related disasters to hit the southern hemisphere.”
Speaking at the report launch, UN Secretary General António Guterres warned countries to get serious about the climate crisis before they show up at his Climate Action Summit in New York September 23.
“Don’t come with a speech, come with a plan,” he said in a release. “This is what science says is needed. It is what young people around the globe are rightfully demanding.”
The report found that 2018 was a record year for sea level rise, and for land and ocean temperatures. It pointed out that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels increased from 357 to 405.5 parts per mission between 1994 and 2017, and detailed mounting impacts on Arctic sea ice, food security, heat waves, and wildfires.
“Flooding was the climate-related disaster that impacted the largest number of people in 2018—more than 35 million,” EcoWatch reports. “Hurricanes Florence and Michael in the U.S. cost around US$49 billion in damages and killed more than 100 people. Super Typhoon Mangkhut killed at least 134 people and impacted 2.4 million, mostly in the Philippines.”