This is hardly surprising, but it has to be said and debated, too. The year 2023 has been declared to be the hottest year on record, beating 2016 which held that record.
According to Copernicus Climate Change Service, the year 2023 has been confirmed as the warmest calendar year in global temperature data records going back to 1850, with a global average temperature of 14.98°C, which is 0.17°C higher than the previous highest annual value in 2016.
The year 2023 was also 0.60°C warmer than the 1991-2020 average, and 1.48°C warmer than the 1850-1900 pre-industrial level.
But, that’s not all. Copernicus Climate Change Service says that it is ‘likely that a 12-month period ending in January or February 2024 will exceed 1.5°C above the pre-industrial level’. So, we are still experiencing the heat and the possibility of it getting even hotter.
And, there is still more, for according to the same service, which is a project of the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecast, 2023 was the first on record where every day within a year has exceeded 1°C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial level.
It goes further to say that close to 50 percent of the days were more than 1.5°C warmer than the 1850-1900 level, and two days in November were, for the first time, more than 2°C warmer. December 2023 was the warmest December on record globally, the same Centre states.
Facts culled from the Copernicus Climate Change Service state that during 2023, the Antarctic sea ice reached record low extents compared to the previous year, while the Arctic sea ice extent at its annual peak in March ranked amongst the four lowest for the time of the year in the satellite record.
There were also a large number of extreme events across the globe, including heatwaves, floods, droughts and wildfires. The estimated global wildfire carbon emissions in 2023 increased by 30% with respect to 2022.
What we have here is not the best of prognosis for the future, where climate change is casting a huge shadow. Climate change, that has been debated for decades, has been making its presence felt, and surely in 2023, it sounded out a loud warning. The question is whether those warnings are being heeded or are they being ignored.
Nations meet annually for the climate change meeting, take decisions; but there has been little positive change seen in the climate. In fact, is it only getting hotter and perhaps even faster than expected.
Coming to Goa, any Goan would unequivocally say that December was not as cold as in the past. They would be right, and towards the end of December, the week between Christmas and New Year, the maximum temperature went up to 35°C, which for that period, is definitely not normal.
February 2023 had already been declared as the hottest February on record for Goa. And, the rest of the following months did not show an appreciable change for the better.
The temperature in Goa dropped around mid-January, a little too late in the season, as Christmas and New Year are usually quite cool periods in the State. We saw it different this time.
We are definitely facing climate change, but then, doing little to try and stall it. True that any action to have an effect has to be done at the global level with coordination with other countries, but can’t Goa start?
The late arrival of the cold has other consequences also, and led to a delay in the flowering of mango trees and could even affect the cashew crop in the season ahead. We could actually experience the effects of this within weeks and months, depending on how good is the cashew and mango crop this season.
Climate change can have serious consequences and needs to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, there have been plenty of debates on this, but little has actually been done to bring about the change for the better.