GENEVA The average temperature on Earth for this year is expected to be the second-warmest since global records began 140 years ago, the U.N. weather agency said.
World Meteorological Organization officials on Tuesday called the data more proof of global warming caused by humans. They said the warming temperatures led to an increase in the severity and frequency of storms and droughts and other unusual weather conditions.
Ken Davidson, from the U.S., director of the World Meteorological Organization climate program department, gestures during a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, Dec.18, 2001. "Much of the temperature change is down to human influence," said Davidson. "There are always skeptics on everything, but certainly the evidence we have today shows we do have global warming, and that most of this is due to human action." (AP Photo/Donald Stampfli)
"Temperatures are getting hotter, and they are getting hotter faster now than at any time in the past," said Michel Jarraud, the organization's deputy secretary-general.
The global average surface temperature in 2001 was expected to be 57.96 Fahrenheit, the World Meteorological Organization said. The record, set in 1998, was 58.24 Fahrenheit.
Nine of the 10 warmest years in the last four decades have occurred since 1990, and temperatures are rising three times faster than in the early 1900s, he said.
"Much of the temperature change is down to human influence," said Ken Davidson, director of the organization's climate program department. "There are always skeptics on everything, but certainly the evidence we have today shows we do have global warming, and that most of this is due to human action."
Carbon dioxide produced from burning fossil fuels is the most prevalent of the so-called greenhouse gases, whose growing concentration in the atmosphere is thought to be warming the Earth. Many scientists believe the warming, if not stopped, will cause severe climate changes over the next century.
Few critics disagree that global warming exists. But opinions diverge when scientists forecast the severity of the temperature hikes and their effects, with many skeptics believing the earth's atmosphere will adjust to changes.
At a two-week conference in Morocco last month, negotiators from 165 countries agreed on rules for implementing the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which calls on about 40 industrialized nations to limit carbon emissions or cut them to below 1990 levels.
The United States, the world's largest polluter, has rejected the accord. It argues that the treaty would harm the U.S. economy and says it is unfair because it excuses heavily polluting developing countries like India and China from any obligations.
Jarraud said that while greenhouse gas emissions in 2100 can't be predicted, "continued pollution at today's rate or faster presents several risks, especially a rise in sea-levels" as polar ice melts.
"Many of the world's fastest developing cities are by the sea, and they could face floods, land erosion, and the pollution by salt water of fresh water supplies," he said.
On the Net:
Organization site, http://www.wmo.ch
© 2001 The Associated Press