Report: Earth Came Close to Hitting Warming Threshold in 2023

Jan 17, 2024

The Earth in 2023 smashed a worldwide heat record. It came close to passing a global temperature that experts say is important to avoid the most dire effects of climate change, according to a new report.

Earth reached a yearly average temperature of 1.48 degrees Celsius (°C) above pre-industrial times in 2023. That's from a report released by The European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service this month. It's just two tenths of a degree shy of the 1.5° temperature goal that experts say must be achieved to protect the planet. 

To stay below the threshold, experts say the world could not exceed the 1.5°C mark for at least two decades. But the report’s authors said the Earth is on track to pass 1.5°C in 2024.

The report confirmed that 2023 was the hottest year on record. But experts who’ve analyzed ocean sediments, ice layers, and fossils went further. They say last year may have been the hottest of the last 100,000 years. That dates back well before written history.

“In practice all human activities never had to cope with the climate this warm,” Copernicus Director Carlo Buontempo said.   

The Copernicus report noted that a cyclical El Niño weather pattern began last year. That helped cause the record heat. The 2023 heat broke the 2016 record by the “large margin” of .17°C. But El Niño doesn’t explain all extreme weather by itself. 

“We cannot let these impacts become the new normal,” UK Climate Change Committee Chair Piers Forster told Sky News. “Nor do we have to.”   

Reflect: Do you think young people have a responsibility to contribute to efforts aimed at protecting the planet from the impacts of climate change? Explain.

Based on information in both the article and the infographic, which year prior to 2023 was the hottest year on record? (Common Core RI.5.7; RI.6.7)
a. 2022
b. 2020
c. 2018
d. 2016
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