The last 12 months have been the warmest in 125,000 years, according to a study

Humans have never experienced temperatures as high as those recorded between November 2022 and October 2023, 1.3 degrees above normal and the highest in 125,000 years, according to a report given to be released this Thursday by Climate Central (CC).

Data collected by the American scientific organization in 175 countries indicates that 99% of the planet’s population, some 7.8 billion people, were exposed to temperatures above normal. In addition, 5.7 billion suffered at least 30 days of abnormally high temperatures.

They are “the highest temperatures that humans have experienced since we decided to build cities and live together in large groups,” Andrew Pershing, vice president of Climate Central and one of the authors of the study, said in a press conference.

The cause of this record rise in temperatures is carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, according to Pershing, who warned that the 2023 data are “totally consistent with the long-term trend.”

Climate Central has developed the so-called Climate Shift Index (CSI), a tool that represents the extent to which climate change influences climate and temperature patterns.

A month of hell

CC has determined that the climate crisis caused by emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases multiplied by three the probability that these unusual temperatures would occur between November 2022 and October 2023, which represents a level three of the CSI scale.

In India, 1.2 billion people, 86% of the population, suffered CSI level three temperatures for 30 days or more. In China, the figure was 513 million people, 35% of the population. In the United States 88 million, 26% of the total inhabitants.

But in countries such as Spain, Brazil, Mexico, France, the United Kingdom, Iran, Egypt, the Philippines, Japan, and all those in the Caribbean and Central America region, among others, almost the entire population was subjected to temperatures of level three of CSI for at least a month.

The data indicates that among the world’s large cities, conditions in Houston (USA) were the worst, with 22 consecutive days of extreme heat (between July 31 and August 21). In the cases of New Orleans (USA) and Jakarta and Tangerang (Indonesia) it was 17 consecutive days.

Pershing warned that the situation will most likely worsen in 2024, when the effects of La Niña disappear and those of El Niño become more palpable.

“El Niño is really going to start hitting next year and that’s going to cause even more warming in 2024,” he said.

Heat waves, heavy rains and droughts

Friederike Otto, from the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College London and who also participated in writing the study, warned that with warming, the modification of the composition of the atmosphere is also causing intense rains and at the same time droughts in different parts of the planet.

“With warming, the atmosphere can hold more water vapor. And moisture needs to escape from the atmosphere. So we anticipate seeing an increase in heavy rain,” Otto explained.

The scientist added that the climate crisis multiplied by 80 the probability of the torrential rains that Nigeria, Algeria and other neighboring countries suffered during the past 12 months.

When asked by Efe, Pershing pointed out that some of the places where extreme heat waves have occurred in the past 12 months correspond to areas around the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Mediterranean, “masses of water that have experienced temperatures really unusual.”

But he warned that each year the areas will vary and that the hot spots are concentrated in South America, the Caribbean and Africa.
In this sense, Otto warned that Africa suffers from an “enormous number of extreme heat waves.”

“But no one talks about them, they are not really recorded and in fact we have no reports on their impacts. There are very few parts of Africa where heat mortality is tracked. If you want to know where the hot spots of heat waves are, that place is Africa, although if you read the newspapers it doesn’t seem that way,” the scientist concluded.

By Sohail Majeed