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Amid Global Heat Records The UN Boss Warns That The ‘Climate Breakdown’ Has Begun

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Amplified by wildfires and desert dust fanned by climate change, more frequent heatwaves are leading to a sharp drop in air quality and human health, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in a new report on Wednesday.

The news came as the UN chief released a strongly worded statement on a record summer of global warming in the northern hemisphere, according to the European Union’s climate service Copernicus and WMO.

Earth has just experienced its hottest August on record – by a large margin – and the second hottest month ever after this July. Factoring in June, they represent the hottest three month period ever, the data indicates.

The year overall is the second warmest on record behind 2016.

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Dog days bite back

“Our planet has just endured a season of simmering – the hottest summer on record,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres, warning “climate breakdown has begun”.

“The dog days of summer are not just barking, they are biting”, continued the UN chief, describing the consequences of humanity’s unleashed fossil fuel addiction.

As the climate crisis provokes more and more extreme weather worldwide, the UN Secretary General called on leaders to “turn up the heat now for climate solutions.”

Heatwaves factor

The 2023 WMO Air Quality and Climate Bulletin – coming on the heels of the Secretary General’s statement – puts the spotlight firmly on the damage caused by heatwaves.

It notes that high temperatures are not only a hazard by themselves, but they also trigger damaging pollution.

Based on the 2022 data, the report shows how heatwaves fanned a dangerous drop in air quality last year.

“Heatwaves worsen air quality, with knock-on effects on human health, ecosystems, agriculture and indeed our daily lives,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas, commenting on the report’s findings, adding that climate change and air quality must be tackled together to break a vicious circle.

Climate change brew

Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of heatwaves.

“Smoke from wildfires contains a witch’s brew of chemicals that affects not only air quality and health, but also damages plants, ecosystems and crops – and leads to more carbon emissions and so more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” explained Lorenzo Labrador, a WMO scientific officer in the Global Atmosphere Watch network which compiled the Bulletin.

Last summer’s northern heatwave led to increased concentrations of pollutants such as harmful particulates and reactive gases such as nitrogen oxides.

In Europe, hundreds of air quality monitoring sites registered levels exceeding the World Health Organization’s (WHO) ozone air quality guideline levels of 100 μg m–3 over an eight-hour exposure.

Urban heat islands need trees

When it comes to heat, city dwellers usually experience the most intense conditions.

With dense infrastructure and numerous tall buildings, urban areas end up with temperatures that are much higher compared to the rural surroundings.

This effect is usually referred to as creating an “urban heat island”. The magnitude of temperature difference varies but may reach up to 9°C at night.

As a result, people who live and work in cities, experience dangerous heat stress even at night.

There is a solution, though. A study in São Paulo, Brazil showed that both temperature and CO2 measurements are partly mitigated by incorporating more green spaces within cities, pointing to the benefits of nature-based solutions for climate change.

WMO released its report on the eve of the International Day of Clean Air for blue skies marked on 7 September. The theme this year is Together for Clean Air, focusing on the need for strong partnerships, increased investment and shared responsibility to overcome air pollution.


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Editorial Staff
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  1. “Our planet has just endured a season of simmering – the hottest summer on record,”

    – This claim lacks context.

    Temperature records date back to 1979 or 44 years. The earth has existed for 4,540,000,000 years. It is impossible to compare to temperature records in 1958.

  2. What BS is this, nothing new. Since 1965 we have noticed changes, it’s natural. Especially since humans keep cutting trees, burning, chemically treating our Mother Earth.

  3. Lol. Is that the covid fear mongering all over again? Earth’s climate has been changing since the earth formed. So what exactly is new here?

  4. It’s amazing how western government agencies are always looking for excuses for their failures in doing the people’s business.

    We are in two- to seven- year cycle of our prodigal son, El Niño de Navidad. Covid & Ukraine having gone out of style, they’ve jumped on the ‘climate change’ boogie-man to keep the ignorant masses in perpetual fear.

    Here in St. Lucia, Pip and his handlers are hoping to keep St. Lucians distracted from their abysmal incompetence by repeating the words ‘climate change’ in every second sentence uttered; till next elections. And in return, ti Chas & his sycophants will be saying, till election time, that the reason the people’s business will never be done is because the SLP was ill-prepared to deal with ‘climate change’, resulting in great discomfort to the populace. Further they will say that St. Lucians must vote them in next election, before they will ‘dégagé’ the climate change boogie-man!

  5. @Isadora … it’s the cutting of the trees, etc., which is one of the causes for the climate as we know it to change, and it is NOT natural!! There are also a number of other elements being emitted into the atmosphere which is causing it to change.

    To the naysayers who are of the “opinion” that this has been going on for years … In the year 1800 – there were NO vehicles, aeroplanes, and other fuel burning devices emitting poisons into the atmosphere. Where have you people been hiding? But you sit back, and repeat the BS, without evidence: “It’s a hoax!” when the evidence is all around you. I went to the beach this last Sunday – and the sea water was HOT!! This I had never experienced ever.

    I am paying attention … and further, SLU should NOT be using fossil fuel for electricity, when we have the wind and sun for FREE. For the last 50 years or so, SLU should be using solar and wind energy. Do the math!! I refuse to sit back, and mouth utter nonsense without tangible evidence, when I can see it and feel it. Instead, people listen to and entertain “conspiracy theories”. Theory? Where is the proof?

  6. @Lab (who sees conspiracy theories under every rock; and is too lazy to find scads of evidence for natural occurrences):

    Caribbean warned to brace for El Niño

    My comments above still apply. If you want to avoid looking like a fool, you should do a little little reading first, before running off at the mouth!

    By the way, please present your evidence from 1800s about weather conditions that might have been different than what we are experiencing today.

  7. I agree with the comments @ Lab that st lucia shouldn’t be still using fossil fuels to still generate electricty at this modern times I was not born in st lucia but I was raised all my adult life in st lucia babonneau area run around marquis estate/ grand anse snake infested area and been to many other parts of st lucia and when I go through numerous states in the usa you see wind farms with wind tower turbines for miles at a time or solar panel farms for miles and miles in states like Indiana to Minnesota to Oregon down California back east to central Texas back north east to western penn and I always think back home the can do the samething

    Now that been said I found out that the smaller wind turbines can power up to 800 homes and the midsize turbines can power up to 8000 homes the larger ones can power up to 18000 homes that’s eight thousands homes can someone imagine how cheaper your light bill would have been if st lucia decides to make this investment and go green or make use of renewable energy that is available home to generate electricity would be a win win for everyone

  8. Tighten your Belt – can’t argue with this, we’ve been told what to expect 2,000 years ago.
    2nd. Peter Vs 7, 10, 12. [ the heavens and the Earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire, against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.]
    (10)[ the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the Earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.] (12)…….the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat. ]
    These words were penned by the one we know of – as St. Peter, one of the Apostles of Jesus the Christ, after he was enlightened.

  9. @nudge …I am happy and confident to state that I DO READ, and from school days was very interested in the georgraphy of the planet we live on up to this day. Also thankfully, my parents, and myself subscribed to knowledge of such – up to this day.

    As for “conspiracy theories” – these leave a lot to be desired to the sensible thinking, as well as research, which is not to far to look for. And please, I sincerely hope not, that you too thought that airplanes were used when George Washington sailed on the Delaware River (a Trumpism). Have you ever inhaled jet fuelled fumes? (I have and was sick for days.)

    From geographical and historical facts, were there planes, trains and automobiles in the 1800’s (and prior) spewing gases, and other “fossil fueled” emissions into the atmosphere? Which is one of the main causes of “climate change”? You are the one who should stop beating your chest on YOUR so-called facts.


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