The concentration of human-produced gases that are driving climate change and sea level rise reached record highs in 2021 and that’s bad news on several fronts, according to the State of the Climate Report issued this week by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“The data presented here in this report are clear — we continue to see more compelling scientific evidence that climate change has global impacts and shows no sign of slowing,” said Rick Spinrad, Ph.D., NOAA’s Administrator, in an article posted on the agency’s website. “With many communities hit with 1,000 year floods, exceptional drought and historic heat this year, it shows that the climate crisis is not a future threat but something we must address today as we work to build a Climate-Ready Nation — and world — that is resilient to climate-driven extremes.”
Among the report’s notable finding:
- Earth’s greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide — were the highest on record, with carbon dioxide reaching levels not seen in a million years.
- The Earth continues to warm, with 2021 being the sixth warmest year on record and the last seven years being the warmest ever recorded since measurements began being taken in the latter part of the 1880s.
- Ocean heat content reached a new high in 2021, which is especially troublesome since 50 percent of sea level rise is due to the expansion of the ocean as the water heats up.
- For the tenth year in a row, global average sea level rose to a new record.
NOAA released the 32nd annual State of the Climate Report with the hope that the data will be used to spur the world into action and reduce the amount of fossil fuels — coal, oil and natural gas — burned around the world. The United Nations has been warning for years that nations must curtail greenhouse gas emissions or we will face global catastrophe. “The evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions are choking our planet & placing billions of people in danger,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres tweeted last year. “Global heating is affecting every region on Earth, with many of the changes becoming irreversible. We must act decisively now to avert a climate catastrophe.”
Coastal communities and real estate owners in the U.S. are already spending billions of dollars to address coastal flooding due to sea level rise. Every year the world doesn’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions will add to the cost and destruction of property and the environment.