As the world was busy celebrating Earth Day on April 22, a new report was released which paints a rather grim picture of the year that went by and the path where we are headed. The World Meteorological Department released its annual report, State of the Global Climate 2022, which showed that from mountain peaks to ocean depths, climate change continued its advance in 2022. These include Europe shattering records for glacier melt in 2022 and sea ice in Antarctica dropping to the lowest level on record in February 2022.
Weather, water and climate-related disasters, including extreme flooding, heat and drought affected millions of people and cost billions this year, as the tell-tale signs and impacts of human-induced climate change intensified.
The State of the Global Climate 2022 shows the planetary scale changes on land, in the ocean and in the atmosphere caused by record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. For global temperature, the years 2015-2022 were the eight warmest on record despite the cooling impact of a La Niña event for the past three years. Melting of glaciers and sea level rise – which again reached record levels in 2022 – will continue to go up to thousands of years.
“While greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise and the climate continues to change, populations worldwide continue to be gravely impacted by extreme weather and climate events. For example, in 2022, continuous drought in East Africa, record breaking rainfall in Pakistan and record-breaking heatwaves in China and Europe affected tens of millions, drove food insecurity, boosted mass migration, and cost billions of dollars in loss and damage,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas, in a press statement.
While global temperature records were not broken in 2022, many nations experienced unprecedented heat. Large portions of the northern hemisphere were both hot and dry, with India and Pakistan seeing record-breaking temperatures in March and April. China had its most extensive and long-lasting heatwave on record, along with the second-driest summer on record. The heavy rainfall in July and August broke records and caused widespread flooding in Pakistan.
As of 2021, 2.3 billion people faced food insecurity, of which 924 million people faced severe food insecurity. Projections estimated 767.9 million people facing undernourishment in 2021, 9.8% of the global population. Half of these are in Asia and one third in Africa.
Throughout the year, hazardous climate and weather-related events drove new population displacement and worsened conditions for many of the 95 million people already living in displacement at the beginning of the year, according to the report. The report also puts a spotlight on ecosystems and the environment and shows how climate change is affecting recurring events in nature, such as when trees blossom, or birds migrate.