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We live in the warmest decade on record, UN says
Written by Daniel   
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 21:58

From The

COPENHAGEN, Denmark – This decade is on track to become the warmest since records began in 1850, and 2009 could rank among the top-five warmest years, the U.N. weather agency reported Tuesday on the second day of a pivotal 192-nation climate conference.

For central Africa and southern Asia this will probably be the warmest year, but overall 2009 will "be about the fifth-warmest year on record," said Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Only the United States and Canada experienced cooler conditions than average, it said, although Alaska had the second-warmest July on record.

The U.N. agency noted an extreme heat wave in India in May and a heatwave in northern China in June. It said parts of China experienced their warmest year on record, and that Australia so far has had its third-warmest year. Extremely hot weather was also more frequent and intense in southern South America.

The decade 2000-2009 "is very likely to be the warmest on record, warmer than the 1990s, than the 1980s and so on," Jarraud told a news conference, holding up a chart with a temperature curve pointing upward.

The data were released as negotiators at the two-week talks in Copenhagen worked Tuesday to craft a global deal to step up efforts to stem climate change, digging into the dense technicalities of ``metrics" and "gas inventories."

Governments, meanwhile, jockeyed for position leading up to the finale late next week, when more than 100 national leaders, including President Barack Obama, will converge on Copenhagen for the final days of bargaining.

Scientists say without an agreement to wean the world away from fossil fuels and other pollutants to greener sources of energy, the Earth will face the consequences of ever-rising temperatures: The extinction of plant and animals, the flooding of coastal cities, more extreme weather, more drought and the spread of diseases.

If 2009 ends as the fifth-warmest year, it would replace the year 2003. According to the U.S. space agency NASA, the other warmest years since 1850 have been 2005, 1998, 2007 and 2006. NASA says the differences in readings among these years are so small as to be statistically insignificant.

The U.N. climate agency said the global combined sea and land surface temperatures for January-October 2009 was estimated at 0.44 degrees C (0.79 degrees F) above the 1961-1990 annual average of 14.00 degrees C (57.2 degrees F). The report had a margin of error of plus or minus 0.11 degrees C, and final data will be released early in 2010.

On Monday, when the climate conference opened, the Obama administration gave the talks a boost by announcing steps that could lead to new U.S. emissions controls that don't require the approval of the U.S. Congress.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said scientific evidence clearly shows that greenhouse gases "threaten the public health and welfare of the American people" and that the pollutants – mainly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels – should be reduced, if not by Congress then by the agency responsible for enforcing air pollution.

As Congress considers the first U.S. legislation to cap carbon emissions, the EPA finding will enable the Obama administration to act on greenhouse gases without congressional action, potentially imposing federal limits on climate-changing pollution from cars, power plants and factories. [More...] [Comments...]



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