The beginning of July was the hottest week on record as a series of searing days saw global temperature records fall. The news comes after intensifying climate change and the early stages of the El Nino weather pattern drove the hottest June on record, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in a statement. The world recorded its hottest day ever on Thursday, July 6, breaking previous highs set on the previous Monday and Tuesday (July 3,4) as global average temperatures continue to climb. The temperature data is the latest in a series of records halfway through a year that has already seen a drought in Spain and fierce heatwaves in China and the United States.
Bangladeshis of course are no strangers to these records, after temperatures soared to previously unheard of highs in a severe heatwave earlier in the summer. Temperatures are breaking records both on land and in the oceans with "potentially devastating impacts on ecosystems and the environment", the WMO said. According to Saleemul Huq, Bangladesh's foremost expert on climate change, the first week of this month was the exact point in time when the world crossed into the new era of loss and damage from human-induced climate change globally. Severe flooding in countries such as China, India, and Italy, and forest fires in Canada, the effects of which disrupted ordinary people's lives in New York city, show that serious climate change impacts are no longer limited to poor countries.
The high sea surface temperatures can cause regular cyclones to become super cyclones with increasing frequency. We saw an example of this with Cyclone Mocha a few weeks ago, which went from Category 3 to 4 to 5 (which is super cyclone status) while it moved up the Bay of Bengal towards Bangladesh and Myanmar. Fortunately for us in Bangladesh, the cyclone veered eastward before making landfall. But while it did cross the southeastern tip of Bangladesh before moving towards the Rakhine state in Myanmar, people there weren't quite as lucky, and over 200 people died.
All this makes it all the more imperative that at the next UN-led climate change conference, COP28, to be held in Dubai in December, world leaders make sure to raise their game to ensure more rapid mitigation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible and keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels. According to Huq, this is still possible with the requisite political will from all leaders. At the same time, the emphasis and requisite funding for adaptation and addressing the reality of loss and damage must also be put in place. It is an oft-repeated refrain, but it must be said again, that the time to act is now.
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