CLOSE

The past five years have been the warmest years since records began in the late 1800s, according to NASA and NOAA.
     USA TODAY

Story Highlights

  • Carbon dioxide levels were highest on record in 2018.
  • The last 4 years have been the Earth's 4 warmest years on record.

Extreme weather events, supercharged by climate change, affected some 62 million people around the world in 2018, the United Nations weather agency said Thursday.

In its yearly "State of the Climate" report, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said the planet's biggest weather was last year was floods (some 35 million people), and droughts, which affected another 9 million.

Since 1998, about 4.5 billion around the world have been hurt by extreme weather.

"We have a growing amount of disasters because of climate change," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

Taalas said that in the past 25 years, climate science has improved dramatically. This has provided solid evidence of accelerating sea level rise, shrinking sea ice, increasingly acidic oceans, glacier retreat, shrinking polar ice, and extreme events such as heat waves.

Timber company workers stand stranded on a damaged road on March 18, 2019, in eastern Zimbabwe after the area was hit by Cyclone Idai. Idai tore through the center of Mozambique on March 14 before barring into neighboring Zimbabwe, bringing flash floods and ferocious winds and washing away roads and houses. Over 1,000 people are feared dead. (Photo: ZINYANGE AUNTONY, AFP / Getty Images)

The report said the Earth is almost 2 degrees (Fahrenheit) warmer than it was in the late 1800s, and that the past four years have been the warmest on record Climate change, aka global warming, is caused by burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas, which release greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane into the Earth's atmosphere and oceans. This has raised the global temperature and thus the climate and weather disasters around the world, the U.N.

Climate crisis: Levels of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere reached record levels in 2018.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Thursday that "climate change is a security and health issue for the world."

UN's dire warning: Act now on Earth's environment as human health 'increasingly threatened'

The devastation shows no signs of letting up: "Extreme weather has continued in early 2019, most recently with Tropical Cyclone Idai, which caused devastating floods and tragic loss of life in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi," said Taalas "It may turn out to be one of the deadly weather-related disasters to hit the Southern Hemisphere."

At least 750 people were killed in the storm. with millions more in need or urgent help

Autoplay

Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

Last SlideNext Slide

Contributing: The Associated Press

Read or Share this story: https : //www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/03/29/extreme-weather-fueled-climate-change-disasters-hit-62-m-last-year/3304707002/