Scientists Find Earth Warming at High but Steady Rate

Increase was mostly attributed to human activity
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 5, 2024 5:03 PM CDT
Scientists Find Earth Warming at High but Steady Rate
Braxton Hicks, 7, of Livingston, Texas, holds his face to a portable fan to cool off during a Little League tournament in Ruston, La., last August.   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

The rate Earth is warming hit an all-time high in 2023, with 92% of last year's surprising record-shattering heat caused by humans, top scientists calculated. The group of 57 scientists from around the world used United Nations-approved methods to examine what was behind last year's deadly burst of heat, the AP reports. They said that even with a faster warming rate, they don't see evidence of significant acceleration in human-caused climate change beyond increased fossil fuel burning. Last year's record temperatures were so unusual that scientists have been debating the causes of the big jump and whether climate change is accelerating or if other factors are in play.

"If you look at this world accelerating or going through a big tipping point, things aren't doing that," said Piers Forster, a Leeds University climate scientist who was the study's lead author. "Things are increasing in temperature and getting worse in sort of exactly the way we predicted." It's pretty much explained by the buildup of carbon dioxide from rising fossil fuel use, he and a co-author said. Last year, the rate of warming hit 0.26 degrees Celsius, 0.47 degrees Fahrenheit, per decade—up from 0.25 degrees Celsius, 0.45 degrees Fahrenheit, the year before. That's not a significant difference, though it does make this year's rate the highest ever, Forster said. Still, outside scientists said this report highlights an ever more alarming situation.

"Choosing to act on climate has become a political talking point, but this report should be a reminder to people that in fact it is fundamentally a choice to save human lives," said University of Wisconsin climate scientist Andrea Dutton, who wasn't part of the study team. "To me, that is something worth fighting for." The team—formed to provide annual scientific updates between the every seven- to eight-year major UN scientific assessments—determined last year was 1.43 degrees Celsius warmer than the 1850-to-1900 average, with 1.31 degrees of that coming from human activity. The other 8% of the warming is due mostly to El Nino.

(More climate change stories.)

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