Breaking news: Despite cooling La Nina, global warming trend continued in 2022

Past eight years are the eight warmest years on record

Steam rises from the coal-fired power plant with wind turbines nearby in Niederaussem, Germany, as the sun rises on Nov. 2, 2022. When world leaders, diplomats, campaigners and scientists descend on Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt for talks on tackling climate change, don't expect them to part the Red Sea or perform other miracles that would make huge steps in curbing global warming. (AP Photo/Michael Probst, File) (Michael Probst, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a specialized agency within the United Nations, just released statistics confirming that Earth’s unusual warming continued in 2022, despite the ongoing La Nina in the Pacific. 

Although the information is just being made public right now (11:00 a.m. EST Thursday), the WMO sent me the data yesterday so that I could prepare this story in advance and post it the moment it was allowed to be made public.  You are among the very first to be seeing this.

Depending upon which international climate research group’s statistics you use, 2022 was either the fifth or sixth warmest year on record (the actual difference between the statistics is very small).  This means that the past eight years are the eight warmest years on record which, statistically, is inconceivable without a significant forcing on the planet’s climate.  In the case of the immediate past 100+ years of warming, scientists have ruled out all natural causes…things like changes in Earth’s tilt or orbit, sunspots, etc. 

The only variable that impacts our climate which has changed much over the past 120 or so years is the composition of our atmosphere:  human activity has unnaturally increased the amount of atmospheric heat-trapping gases, and the warming climate is a consequence of that.  In fact, while the past eight years have all been Earth’s warmest on record, our planet has not had a record cold year for over 100 years.

As mentioned above, the warm past year occurred with a La Nina in progress.  In La Nina conditions, cooler Pacific Ocean waters flow eastward and pool off the west coast of South America.  This is the third year in a row with a La Nina, and the planet’s warming has continued unabated during those years, which are supposed to be colder years.  Conversely, El Nino years – where warmer Pacific waters flow eastward – are warmer years for the planet.  Global warming has made La Nina years today warmer than some El Nino years were decades ago.  That’s remarkable.

As I have explained many times in the past, a warming climate is putting the atmosphere on steroids and, as a result, we are seeing a definite increase in extreme precipitation events, as well as in extreme heat incidents.  Just this past year, China, Europe, and North and South America all experienced record-breaking heat waves.

Naturally, there are some people who deny this science.  So, allow me to show you this graph.  The data is a computation of Earth’s average annual temperature from 1880 to the present…as computed by six different international climate research groups working independently from each other.  Notice the tremendous consistency among the groups.  The number of climate scientists worldwide who agree that Earth is warming at a very unnatural rate and that the proximate cause of this warming is human activity is now over 99%.

Global mean temperature. (World Meteorological Organization (WMO))

You can easily see the temperature trend that started around 100 years ago.  Some who deny this science try to point out that the graph levels off in the 1940s and 1950s, but that is just an attempt to distract you from the significant overall warming that has taken place over the 100 years.  I also want to remind you that a climate warming is not a linear process.  OF COURSE, there will be ups and downs.  It’s just like the stock market…look at any daily graph of the Dow Jones 30 Industrials and you see ups and downs on a short-term basis, as well as longer-term trends.

If you would like to know more about climate change – the actual science without the politics – sign up for my Climate Class Newsletter on ClickOnDetroit.com!  You will not be bombarded with e-mails!  Rather, you will only receive six e-mails, sent once a week.  Just head over to ClickOnDetroit.com/Newsletters and scroll down to Climate Class.  Signing up will take you about ten seconds, then just wait for your first e-mail!  I have already received many, many wonderful comments from people about my Climate Class, with most of the comments highlighting how simple I kept things, and how refreshing it was to learn this science without any political slant whatsoever.


About the Author:

Local 4 meteorologist Paul Gross was born in Detroit and has spent his entire life and career right here in southeast Michigan. Paul has researched, written and produced eight half-hour documentaries for WDIV, as well as many science, historical and environmental stories.