Please Stop Saying Humans Aren’t Causing Climate Change

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A map of temperature anomalies in 2015 compared to the long-term average. NASA

This story originally appeared on the Guardian and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The world’s run of record-breaking hottest years is extremely unlikely to have happened without the global warming caused by human activities, according to new calculations.

Thirteen of the 15 hottest years in the 150-year-long record occurred between 2000 and 2014 and the researchers found there is a just a 0.01 percent chance that this happened due to natural variations in the planet’s climate.

2015 was revealed to have smashed all earlier records on Wednesday, after the new study had been completed, meaning the odds that the record run of heat is a fluke are now even lower.

“Natural climate variations just can’t explain the observed recent global heat records, but manmade global warming can,” said Prof Stefan Rahmstorf, at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and one of the research team.

He said the record heat brought substantial impacts: “It has led to unprecedented local heatwaves across the world, sadly resulting in loss of life and aggravating droughts and wildfires. The risk of heat extremes has been multiplied due to our interference with the Earth system, as our analysis shows.”

The UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed on Monday that the global average surface temperature in 2015 shattered all previous records and said 15 of the 16 hottest years on record have all occurred since 2000. “We have reached for the first time the threshold of 1C above pre-industrial temperatures. It is a sobering moment in the history of our planet,” said WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas.

The new research by Rahmstorf and colleagues, published in the journal Scientific Reports, is based on a statistical analysis that combines real-world measurements with comprehensive computer simulations of the climate system. This allowed natural climate variability to be better separated from human-caused climate change. The results did not vary significantly when UK Met Office temperature data was used instead of Nasa data.

The research was prompted by earlier claims that the run of record-breaking years was vanishing unlikely, a one in 650m shot, according to one report.

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