In January the European Union’s weather and climate monitoring agency, Copernicus, confirmed that 2023 was the hottest year in recorded history. The temperature records were not simply broken, but obliterated for each month. Globally, scientists expressed alarm at the extraordinary data, whilst many governments continued to fail to react with urgency to what was being reported.
International climate monitoring bodies knew that 2023 was going to be a challenging year. Partly, due to the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a cyclical climate pattern that interferes with the Pacific trade winds and as a result can have profound short-term impacts on temperatures and rainfall patterns globally.
However, combined with the growing effects of climate change, the scale of El Nino was likely to be supercharged, and so it proved to be. Temperature levels and rainfall records were beaten on every continent every month of the year – a staggering revelation. For the first time in 100,000 years, the global average temperature was 1.48C – nearly 1.5C – above the pre-industrial average. Even more alarming was the number of days the global average passed 1.5C: a staggering 86 days and a further two days saw the global average pass 2C. With El Nino not peaking until late 2024, temperatures will continue to remain considerably high for some months.
Even after the Pacific calms down, we are still on track to exceed 1.5C by 2030 permanently at the latest. Exceeding 1.5 degrees will have profound consequences for wildlife and people.
So, why does this matter? In short, the higher the temperature, the more significant the global impacts on sea level rise, ice melt and biodiversity loss including more severe and frequent extreme weather events, droughts and food security challenges. We refer to the ‘challenges of global warming’, but in reality, we are talking about a complete breakdown of global ecological systems and patterns. Familiar seasons, including cold winters and tropical monsoons, will become a thing of the past, and the implications for nature and people will be nothing short of catastrophic.
As Christians, we are called to bear witness to a God who loves his creation and declared that it is good. A God who designed nature to be complex, intricately connected, and working in perfect harmony. He called his people to tend and care for the natural world, yet human action and degradation of the natural environment has disrupted that harmony. So, in the face of catastrophic climate breakdown and biodiversity loss, it is more important than ever that we continue in, even redouble, our efforts to protect and restore nature. We need to do all we can in our homes, workplaces, communities and nationally to restore and advocate for nature. A crucial way to do this is by using our voice to call for nature to be at the heart of manifestos in the lead up to the next election. A Rocha UK is part of the Nature 2030 campaign which has five key policy proposals which would protect and restore nature by 2030, the international commitment that the UK government has signed up to. Find out more about the campaign and write to your MP here.
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