The world's getting hotter - in spite of reductions in global warming
Increased temperatures unhealthful for both elderly and agriculture, experts say
In spite of a slowdown in the overall pace of global warming, a recent study has found that hot weather extremes have globally increased over the past 15 years. Extreme warm weather can raise death rates, especially among the elderly, damage food crops and strain everything from water to energy supplies, experts warn.
More than 55,000 people were killed in a Russian heat wave in 2010. A European heat wave in 2003 killed 66,000 people. One hot spot in Pakistan recorded a temperature of 128 degrees in 2010, the highest in Asia since 1942.
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The average pace of warming at the planet's surface has slowed from the 20th century in what researchers' link to factors such as absorption of more heat by the oceans, more sun-dimming pollution or volcanic eruptions.
The world's governments need to shift from fossil fuels towards renewable energies. Almost 200 nations have agreed to work out a deal by the end of 2015 to combat climate change.
It's not yet known why heat extremes had continued rising despite the hiatus. One possibility is that the oceans have soaked up heat from the atmosphere and slowed overall global warming, even as the land had been exposed to extremes.
"There is no reason to expect the (trend towards more hot extremes) to stop," lead author Sonia Seneviratne, of the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science at ETH Zurich, says.
Reports of more extreme weather have been reported as greenhouse gas emissions rise to new peaks.
A World Meteorological Organization review last year showed that 56 countries reported a hot temperature record from 2001-10, while just 14 reported a new cold record.
England had a record 101 degrees in 2003, while Northern Ireland had a record low of 11 degrees in 2010.
"We are not seeing what I would call a pause in global temperature increases," Michel Jarraud, head of the WMO, said in Geneva this week. Thirteen of the 14 warmest years on record had been since 2000.
Pope Francis calls for your 'prayer and action'...
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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lord’s invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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