This past year, 2023, has been confirmed to be Earth's hottest year on record globally. First, June was the planet’s warmest June on record. Then, July was the warmest July. The trend continued to December. For Nepal, it was the second hottest year since 1981, according to the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM), which has been keeping records since 1962. The average maximum temperature for the country in 2023 was 27.9° C, an increase of 0.6° C compared to the previous normal annual maximum temperature. The meteorological data underscores the complex climate patterns observed in Nepal, with variations in precipitation and temperature levels across different regions, alongside significant instances of extreme weather events like heat wave.
The recent worldwide findings have also shown that global warming has exceeded by 1.5° C since the dawn of industrial revolution, with January of this year being the warmest January on record. Scientists have warned for decades that warming needs to stay below the limit of 1.5° C. In 2015, world leaders pledged to try and prevent global temperature rise by more than this limit in what is known as Paris Climate Agreement, when, for the first time, almost all of the world's nations agreed to cut the greenhouse gas emissions. But if we take a cue from this report, it seems that window for meeting the climate goal is getting narrower, and we're running out of way to adapt to the climate crisis.
It's clear that unabated emissions of greenhouse gases pushed global warming to new highs. Warming climate intensifies heat waves and storms, melts glacier and ice blocks and increases sea level, displacing and risking settlements in coastal cities in every continent. These effects were unmistakably palpable last year: Heat wave baked countries from the US to Europe to China. Canada experienced its most devastating wildfire season on record. The sea ice formed in Antarctica coasts was less than at any point before. In Nepal, schools in Tarai had to be closed amid oppressive heat wave.
Extreme climate events have continued into 2024. Only a few days ago Chile experienced its deadliest wildfires on record, killing scores of people and destroying a vast swath of the country's green cover, and turning countless homes and neighbourhood into ashes. Similarly, Australia is reeling from sweltering heat waves and raging wildfires, putting its biodiversity at breaking point and prompting its government to put millions of people under warning. As the world continues to experience off-the-chart temperatures, a sobering questions arises: Why hasn't our effort to limit the warming gone far enough?
This is happening notwithstanding the rise of electric vehicles (EV), coal-power plants being phased out in favour of renewable sources of energy like wind and solar and heavy carbon polluters scaling back their operations, among other climate-friendly developments. Is the developed world, which bears the most blame for this crisis, doing enough to make good on its climate pledge to wean itself off the fossil fuel it has been addicted to? One thing is clear, though: much more needs to be done. In light of this grim data, communities, businesses and individuals have no option but to ready themselves to build resilience for the future. This means equipping ourselves to navigate the impacts of climate change that are increasing in frequency and severity.