The warmest February does not invite optimism

7 March 2024

Today’s data from the European Union’s Copernicus program shows that we have left behind the warmest February in history, surpassing by a wide margin the trend of increasing temperatures recorded in recent years.

Data published on the Copernicus website

As the graph shows, the surface air temperature exceeded the 2oC limit in the first days of the month (from February 8th to February 11th).

This temperature record is also transferred to extrapolar oceanic masses:

Data published on the Copernicus website

With a very significant increase in temperature these first months of the year, already coming from an exceptionally warm second half of 2023.

This global imbalance has had a very important impact on Antarctic sea ice extent:

Data published on the NSIDC website

And also on Arctic sea ice extent, although not as much as in 2012:

Data published on the NSIDC website

All this data does not invite optimism.

Our activity is causing an energy imbalance of colossal dimensions: the increase in greenhouse gases causes a greater percentage of the energy that reaches us from the sun to remain in the atmosphere and consequently warm the air and the oceans.

And despite general calls for decarbonization, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere continues to increase:

Data published on NASA’s climate website

The root of the problem is clear, but our addiction to fossil fuels complicates the solution. With each passing day the problem becomes bigger and bigger.

What can we do?

1- Decarbonize faster

2- Remove the CO2 that we have already emitted in excess and that is in the atmosphere

3- Spend fewer resources either because society changes habits and/or because it becomes smaller

4- Take the risk of implementing geoengineering

If we do not achieve it by ourselves, the system will put us in our place. For our own interest, it is better for us to do it and not let the Earth set the limits for us.

And we must not only think about ourselves, but also about those who will come after us and the rest of the living beings with whom we share the planet.