Saturday 1 October 2016

Stock up on the sunscreen - 2016 is set to be the hottest year on record

Catherine Devine

Published 17/05/2016 | 11:47

Twin sisters Antonia Wilkowska, left, and Amelia, 4, from Crumlin, Dublin, enjoying the sunshine (Inset: Pamela Cesarini, left, and Yris Vieira, from Portobello, Dublin, enjoying the sunshine) Photo: Caroline Quinn
Twin sisters Antonia Wilkowska, left, and Amelia, 4, from Crumlin, Dublin, enjoying the sunshine (Inset: Pamela Cesarini, left, and Yris Vieira, from Portobello, Dublin, enjoying the sunshine) Photo: Caroline Quinn

Stock up on sunscreen and bikinis - this year is on course to be the hottest year on record.

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According to one of the country's top climatologists, April was the seventh month in a row to break temperature records.

Speaking to Newstalk's Breakfast, NUI Maynooth climatologist Dr John Sweeney said it was also the hottest month globally ever recorded by NASA.

“I think climatologists have generally been expecting this kind of a sequence to occur for many years now,” Dr Sweeney said.

“The Pacific Ocean covers half the globe so when it warms up naturally temperature records tend to get broken.”

Dr Sweeney says that we probably won’t continue to break these global records on a monthly basis for the remainder of the year as the ocean is cooling down.

“Even with the cooler waters, the ocean has warmed up so much that even then we can expect a continue serge in global temperatures over the next few years.

“We’ve been expecting it for many years. It’s just sad that it’s happening so quickly and it also has some implications of course for the future.”

Twin sisters Antonia Wilkowska, left, and Amelia, 4, from Crumlin, Dublin, enjoying the sunshine. St. Stephen's Green, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Twin sisters Antonia Wilkowska, left, and Amelia, 4, from Crumlin, Dublin, enjoying the sunshine. St. Stephen's Green, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Twin sisters Antonia Wilkowska, left, and Amelia, 4, from Crumlin, Dublin, enjoying the sunshine. St. Stephen's Green, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Dylan Croke, from Tallaght, and Sara OConnor, from Clondalkin, enjoying the sunshine. St. Stephen's Green, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Pamela Cesarini, left, and Yris Vieira, from Portobello, Dublin, enjoying the sunshine. St. Stephen's Green, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Sophia Carvalho, from Brazil living in Harold's Cross, enjoying the sunshine. St. Stephen's Green, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Clockwise from left: Mengxi Hu, from Rathfarnham, Mairead Conroy, from Tallaght, Kate OByrne, from Enniscorthy, Wexford, Claire Spelman, from Clontarf, and Fiona Brennan, from Dunboyne, enjoying the sunshine. St. Stephen's Green, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Beau Byrne, 4, from Crumlin, Dublin, enjoying the sunshine. St. Stephen's Green, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Jasmin Schous, left, and Marly Lampe, from the Netherlands, enjoying the sunshine. St. Stephen's Green, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Lucia Murtagh, 16 months, from Newtownmountkennedy, Wicklow, enjoying the sunshine with her aunt Mati Naranjo, from Smithfield, Dublin. St. Stephen's Green, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

The earth’s temperature is consistently increasing by one and a half to two degrees.

“Generally speaking one and a half to two degrees is where you enter the unknown territory, but particularly at two degrees there’s a lot of unknown things that we don’t know how Greenland will behave, how the Antarctic will behave, how the gulf stream will behave once we go beyond two degrees and that’s why the Paris agreement was really tied to trying to avoid two degrees and trying to stay below one a half if possible," Dr Sweeney continued.

“With the way we’re going…it does look like there’s a risk of exceeding two degrees and increasing substantially over the next few years. And that means that we have all sorts of problems such as food production, heatwaves and droughts and really major problems for humanity once we see the two degrees."

Ireland is now a degree warmer than we were in comparative decades in the last century and it will also have implications for us in terms of agriculture, Sweeney said.

“There’s no doubt that it’s humanity that is now in control of the climate.”

The two largest players in global warming are the US and China, but Sweeney argues that Ireland has a part to play.

“We cannot point to China and the United States because they are at least doing something to reduce their emissions.

"We are actually making a conscious effort to go the opposite way and we have a higher per capita greenhouse emission than China, Germany UK or France so accountability and responsibility for tackling this problem falls on our shoulders as well.

“That’s where we need more leadership and we need people to make the hard choices about transport, agriculture, emissions, how we’re going to tackle those in the future to play our part in the global community.”

Sweeney said he was disappointed by comments made in the Dáil about climate change.

“During the debate during the formation of the Government there was very little mention of climate change.

"It’s sad in a way that we are effectively putting the short term national self-interest in the area ahead of making strategic decisions that need to be taken in the next decade if we’re to play our part as a responsible country.”

Dr Sweeney also responded to Independent Kerry TD, Danny Healy-Rae's comments when he told the Dáil during a debate on climate change that; “God above is in charge of the weather and we here can’t do anything about it."

Dr Sweeney said; "It was very disappointing to hear those kinds of comments. I think the debate has moved on so much from that. It does make you despair at times about the ability of our leaders to see beyond a very small parochial self-interest."

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