2021 was NOT the Hottest Year on Record; Should We be Worried?

  January 12, 2022

In the last year, young people have seen more climate events happening than elders might have experienced in the last couple of decades. So, it is no surprise that 2021 has been declared the 5th hottest year on record. On 10th January 2022, the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service released its annual findings to prove that the 7 hottest years on record have been…the last 7. This has come in the wake of several regions literally flaring up last year. Europe experienced an unusually warm summer, with heat waves causing wildfires across Turkey, Greece and Italy. Lytton, a town in Canada recorded an unimaginable temperature of 49.6 degrees Celsius. Severe flooding swept away not just parts of Europe, but also China, India and Sudan. The drought in South America’s Parana river continued and worsened. This is a list of only a handful of events.

This means that global warming’s grip on the planet is fastening, and every year we are going to see a new record being set. The average temperature in 2021 was 1.1-1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Carbon emissions had remained consistent for hundreds of years… till the industrial revolution began pumping huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The hottest years till now have been 2016 and the unforgettable, 2020.

At the Paris Agreement in 2015, countries committed to limiting GHG emissions to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. So far, they have only risen. Copernicus’ record keeping, which dates back to 1950, showed that greenhouse gases like methane continued to rise last year…and over 1500 megatons of Co2 released by wildfires across the world did not help. Co2 emissions were 414.3 parts per million, up by 2.4ppm from 2020.
Cumulatively, while the rate of carbon dioxide release has not sharply increased, methane emissions which are 25 times more dangerous, grew more than they have in the last two decades. Copernicus is yet to release a conclusive set of reasons for this.

Apart from Copernicus, the three other agencies that also release analyses on the climate are NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Berkeley Earth. Most of these analyses have been observed to match one another closely.

Climate change is not just about the planet getting warmer every year. It is offset by a number of factors like the La Nina, for example, which brought down the average temperature last year. A cohesive look at glaciers, disaster patterns, land and ocean temperatures, sea levels, etc points to the changes that the Earth is going through. It is up to us to identify them and raise awareness about the climate crisis.

Content tags