The hottest week in history, all the numbers of the climate crisis

How the climate has changed since 1880 and what to expect in the future

Globally, last week was the hottest in Earth’s history. The time to collect the data was not enough, that the worrying record could already be exceeded. The trend observed from 1880 to today leaves little room for interpretation.

“The greenhouse gas emissions that the world is currently dealing with” are “the result of historical and current emissions due to a unsustainable use of energyto the exploitation of the territories, a lifestyles and patterns of consumption and production”, notes the final synthesis of the studies on the climate of theIPCCthe United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

According to IPCC experts, at these rates, the psychological threshold of 1.5 degrees will be exceeded by the middle of the next decade.

Reducing emissions is an obligation to safeguard human survival on the planet, but not only. As Lucia Perugini of the Euro-Mediterranean Center for Climate Change explained and reported, “the benefits of investments in reducing emissions outweigh the costs of the adaptation measures necessary to counter climate disasters”.

Despite these findings, the demonstrations by environmentalists and the commitments made by the institutions, the data is steadily deteriorating. “We have the Paris agreement that should save the future of humanity – climatologist Luca Mercalli told Adnkronos – a treaty that says that we must hurry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent the global temperature from rising further the 2 degree.All the countries said ok, but theagreement is not binding.

So in fact we are with an agreement only on paper without concrete changes; just think that 2022 was the year with the highest emissions ever. In addition, the war in Ukraine has been added, which increases emissions even more: the calculations of a Dutch study say that the emissions of this conflict are equal to those of all of Belgium, so it is like having added one more country on paper geography of the world. More than reduction!”.

The trend from 1880 to today

The “GISS Surface Temperature Analysis” (GISTEMP v4) conducted by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) finds that “The global average temperature on Earth is increased by at least 1.1° Celsius since 1880. Most of the warming has occurred since 1975, at a rate of about 0.15-0.20°C per decade.”

Considering this trend, according to IPCC scholars 2025 must be the year to reach the peak of greenhouse emissions and then drop it gradually. Otherwise the situation would be difficult to recover. Yet, so far emissions continue to rise. The progressive pollution is well explained by the data on carbon dioxide. Between 1850 and 2019, humanity accumulated 2,400 gigatons of CO2: of these, 58% was emitted between 1850 and 1990, a span of 140 years, 42% between 1990 and 2019, over just 29 years.

The IPCC explains that the 59 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent emitted in 2019 are 12% more than in 2010, but a good 54% more than in 1990!

The data may seem conflicting with the concrete measures taken in the production and distribution processes. The cause is as simple as it is disarming: the reduction of greenhouse gases due to the improved efficiency of the processes has been more than large offset by the increase in consumption.

Added to this is the tragic paradox that affects approx 3.6 billion peopleor almost half of the world’s population: as the IPCC explains, they live in underdeveloped areas of the globe, they pollute less, but they are found in the regions most affected by the effects of climate change.

Steps for the future

It has been seen that improving production processes is not enough to improve the health of the planet. A fundamental ally in the absorption of greenhouse gases is the greenery present in the territories. In Europe, 10% of these emissions are absorbed by forests. Also in the light of these data, last week the EU Parliament approved the Nature Restoration Law to start a process of ecosystem recovery.

The European Union has one of the most advanced climate regulations in the world and with the program Fit for 55 has set itself the goal of reducing greenhouse emissions by 55% compared to 1990 by 2030.

The EU has also set itself the goal of achieving climate neutrality (the so-called net zero) by 2050. A key resource in achieving this goal is precisely the protection of forests and oceans, capable of absorbing large quantities of carbon dioxide.

As reported by, the secretary of the United Nations Antonio Guterres proposed that the states belonging to the OECD (the Organization for Cooperation and Development, a club that welcomes the most developed countries) bring forward the threshold for reaching net zero by ten years, bringing it to 2040. Guterres also called on the oil and gas industries to “be part of the solution to the problem” and to be “believable”.

Global warming and public opinion

To a large part of the world’s population, the increase of 1 degree Celsius seems insignificant and theclimatic alarm, therefore, excessive.

NASA itself answers: “The temperatures we experience locally and in short periods can fluctuate significantly due to predictable cyclical events (night and day, summer and winter) and difficult to predict wind and precipitation patterns. But the global temperature – explains the Agency – depends mainly on how much energy the planet receives from the sun and how much it radiates into space. The energy from the sun fluctuates very little each year, while the amount of energy radiated by the Earth is closely linked to the chemical composition of the atmosphereespecially the amount of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

A global change of one degree is significant because it takes a large amount of heat to warm all of the oceans, atmospheres, and landmasses by that much. In the past, all it took was a drop of a degree or two to plunge the Earth into the Little Ice Age. 20,000 years ago, a 5 degree drop was enough to bury much of North America under a massive mass of ice.

It does not facilitate the contribution of public opinion climate inertia, which lasts about 20 years. This term refers to the time the climate needs to “absorb” and make visible the effects of the climate policies implemented.

We must therefore give up something today to see the effects in two decades. Is humanity ready for this sacrifice?