The COP28 summit is currently addressing the challenge of reducing climate change while a UN agency reports a concerning increase in global temperatures.

The UN’s weather organization has announced that glaciers have reduced in size at a higher rate between 2011 and 2020 compared to the previous decade, and the Antarctic ice sheet has lost 75% more ice. This is part of their recent report highlighting the consequences of climate change on Earth.

The World Meteorological Organization served up more evidence of what scientists already know – the Earth is heating – on Tuesday, but this time looking at the trend over a longer period with its latest Decadal State of the Climate report.

Taalas, the secretary-general, stated that each decade since the 1990s has been warmer than the last and there are currently no indications of this trend slowing down. He also mentioned that we are falling behind in efforts to preserve our melting glaciers and ice sheets.

According to him, the warming of oceans and melting of ice sheets has led to a significant increase in the rate of sea-level rise in a short period of time. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warns that this could have negative consequences for coastal regions and countries with low-lying areas.

There is a split among experts when it comes to a crucial measure: The speed at which the Earth’s temperature is increasing.

James Hansen, a former leading scientist at NASA who is known as the “Godfather of Global Warming” for his early predictions, has stated that the pace of global warming is increasing. Michael Mann, a climate scientist from the University of Pennsylvania, has refuted this claim, arguing that while temperatures have been consistently rising since 1990, there is no evidence of an acceleration.

According to Mann, the temperature of both the planet’s surface and oceans are rising at a consistent pace, rather than accelerating, which is concerning. He cautioned that this warming is contributing to more frequent and severe extreme weather events, as well as coastal flooding and numerous other harmful consequences.

“As long as we continue to emit carbon pollution through burning fossil fuels and engaging in other activities, the warming and resulting consequences will persist. This emphasizes the urgent importance of making progress at the current COP28 climate summit in Dubai,” he stated.

According to the WMO report, glaciers worldwide have been thinning at an average rate of one meter (approximately 3 feet) per year between 2011 and 2020. A study of over 40 “reference glaciers” revealed the lowest levels of mass balance compared to any other decade.

According to the WMO, the glaciers near the Equator are rapidly diminishing. The glaciers in Papua, Indonesia are expected to disappear completely within the next ten years. Similarly, the glaciers on the Rwenzori Mountains and Mount Kenya in Africa are predicted to vanish by 2030, and those on Kilimanjaro by 2040.

The melting of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica resulted in a 38% increase in ice loss from 2011 to 2020 compared to the previous decade. This has also led to an acceleration in sea level rise during the same time period.

Elena Manaenkova, the deputy secretary general of WMO, stated that this report stands out from previous alerts because it offers a comprehensive view of long-term trends and sustained patterns in temperature change from the 2010s. This can assist in predicting the direction of future warming.

This report is vital for removing discrepancies caused by factors such as natural weather events like El Nino or La Nina, which are periods of abnormal warming and cooling of the Pacific Ocean waters that impact weather globally.

Manaenkova stated that individuals frequently respond to current events and this provides insight into our direction.

In 2023, the global carbon dioxide emissions reached 36.8 billion metric tons, which is twice the amount from 40 years ago. Manaenkova, who was attending her 17th international climate conference, stated that it is time to take action.


This report includes contributions from Gaurav Saini, a member of The Press Trust of India.


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