UN: World Temperatures Rising Faster Than Predicted

28 July, 2016

The United Nations' World Meteorological Organization says the first half of this year has been the hottest in recorded history.

Scientists say that shows temperatures are rising faster than they expected.

The UN agency warned last week that if temperatures continue rising, 2016 will be hottest year ever recorded.

The agency reported that June was the 14th consecutive month of record high heat for land and oceans. It was also the 378th consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th century average.

David Carlson is with the World Meteorological Organization's climate research program.

"What we've seen so far for the first six months of 2016 is really quite alarming."

UN climate experts say the record heat this year suggests that the Earth can warm up faster than expected in a much shorter time.

Carlson notes that the Earth's Northern Hemisphere -- which includes Alaska, Canada and Russia -- has had unusually warm temperatures.

"I think we're very uncomfortable at how much this surprised us, which might be just a little more cautious way of saying ‘fearful about what happens next.' If we got this much surprise this year, how many more surprises are ahead of us?"

Scientists say carbon dioxide emissions -- which they believe are responsible for rising temperatures -- have also reached new highs.

Doug Parr is the chief scientist at the environmental group Greenpeace.

"What the WMO (scientists) are showing is that temperature is going up along with the increases in carbon dioxide. There's really no doubt that these global warming gases are causing the kind of changes that we're seeing in increased temperatures, threats to the Arctic and threats to the Greenland ice sheet and so on. So there's really no time to waste in getting on and doing something about it."

Representatives of 200 governments will meet in November in Morocco to start enforcing the Paris Agreement. The agreement limits climate change to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The goal will not be easy to reach.

Segolene Royal is the French Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy.

"We have this moral obligation between the Paris Agreement (reached in December), the 22nd of April signing, and now the November meeting to ensure that at least 55 countries, representing 55 percent of world emissions of greenhouse gases, ratify the Paris agreement."

Some scientists warn that even if that goal is reached in November, it may be too little too late.

I'm Christopher Jones-Cruise.

VOA's Zlatica Hoke reported this story from Washington. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted the report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

meteorology – n. a science that deals with the atmosphere and with weather

consecutive – adj. following one after the other in a series : following each other without interruption

alarming – adj. causing (someone) to feel a sense of danger; causing worry or fright

uncomfortable – adj. causing a feeling of being embarrassed or uneasy

cautious – adj. careful about avoiding danger or risk

emission – n. the act of producing or sending out something (such as energy or gas) from a source

doubt – n. a feeling of being uncertain or unsure about something

ice sheet – n. a very large and thick area of ice that covers a region