Climate Change (2018): the latest figures on temperature, CO2 concentration and arctic melting

on .

Climate Change has given birth to a big, global debate over the past 30-40 years. Although the scientific community, thanks to the numerous reports by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), agrees on the facts that 1) climate change exists, 2) climate change is caused by anthropogenic factors (by humans), 3) Climate change over the last 200 years has accelerated considerably (it is estimated that Cliamate Change is 170 times faster than in pre-industrial times), there are still people who deny these statements; they claims that climate change is natural and we cannot do anything to change the course of events. This article proposes an analysis of the three major measures (consequences/results) of Climate Change (CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, Global temperature, Arctic ice extent). It’s interesting to note that these three measures converge in one direction: Earth moves towards overheating with tight rhythms.

CO2 concentration in the atmosphere
Climate change is one of the most important and impending challenges for humanity. Understanding the driving factors of global warming is a starting (and key) point in order to address correctly this challenge. One of these factors is CO2 concentration in the atmosphere (not to confuse with CO2 annual emissions in the atmosphere). In fact, according to the record of CO2 and temperature preserved in ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland, there is a clear correlation between CO2 concentration in the atmosphere and air temperature (the higher the concentration, the higher air temperature will be).
CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is measured in part per million (ppm). The observations are made in 4 centres by the Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network. The most important one (often taken as a point of reference) is Mauna Loa (the site chosen by Charles D. Keeling, the scientist who started the studies on the proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere).
The May 9th 2013 figure is extremely significant as CO2 concentration at the Mauna Loa Observatory reached (for the first time since the beginning of recording) 400 parts per million (ppm). It is a high value, considering that it was 280 ppm in the pre-industrial era.
According to recent observations at the center of Mauna Loa, in the fourth week of December 2017, CO2 concentration was 407.2 ppm, much higher than the level observed in the fourth week of December 2016 (404.7) and of December 2015 (402.1). This means that if we do not act immediately, within 50 years or less, CO2 concentration in the atmosphere will exceed 500 ppm, the threshold beyond which any scientists expect a severe climate change.
Graph - CO2 concentration in the atmosphere
(in ppm, at Mauna Loa, weekly data)
Source: LTEconomy ( – elaboration on ESRL-NOAA data
For further information, pease see the article FOCUS – Co2 concentration in the atmosphere: are we resembling the Pliocene Era? And the interview with Pieter Tans, both published on
Global Temperature
Year after year, data on global temperature confirm global warming. In fact, according to the NOAA Climate National Climate Data Center, the average temperature across global land and ocean surface temperatures combined for December 2017 was 0.80°C (1.44°F) above the 20th century average of 12.2°C (54.0°F)—tying with 2016 as the third highest December global temperature since records began in 1880. The last five years (2013–2017) are among the ten warmest Decembers on record.
Observations are carried out with reference to both land surface (1.45°C (2.61°F) above 20th century average) and ocean surface (0.56°C (1.01°F) above 20th century average).
On average, the whole year has recorded 0.84°C above the 20th century average, the 3rd warmest in record history.
As for more recent data, the globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for January 2018 was 0.71°C (1.28°F) above the 20th century average of 12.0°C (53.6°F). January 2018 marks the 42nd consecutive January (since 1977) and the 397th consecutive month (since January 1985) with temperatures at least nominally above the 20th century average. 
Graph – Monthly Temperature Anomalies in in 2012-2017
Source: LTEconomy, elaboration on NOAA National Climate Data Center
For further information, please see the article: GLOBAL TEMPERATURE: anomalies go on - December 2017, the third highest December temperature in the 138-year record on
Arctic Ice Extent
According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), ice lost goes on in both poles … Arctic sea ice extent for December 2017 was the second lowest extent for the month in the satellite record. Low ice extent is not just about December 2016 and not just the arctic pole.
Arctic sea ice extent for December 2017 averaged 11.75 million square kilometers (4.54 million square miles), the second lowest in the 1979 to 2017 satellite record. This was 1.09 million square kilometers (420,900 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 average.
Considering data for 2015, 2016 and 2017, we can see Arctic Ice Lost ranges from 750,000 Square kilometers in winter 2015 and 1.4 million Square Kilometers in summer 2016. The figure gives us a clear message: arctic ice extent has become chronically lower than past average.
Bad news also for early 2018… Both January and February arctic sea ice extent were the lowest extent (for the month) in the 38-year satellite record. 
Figure - Ice Extent Lost Is Increasing Over Time
(Quantity of Ice Extent Lost in December and June compared to the 1981-2010 average)
Source: LTEconomy on NSIDC
For further information, please see the article: ARCTIC MELTING: in December, Arctic sea ice extent 1,000,000 square kilometers below the 1981-2010 average on
Data released by the most important world institutions confirm the persistence of an accelerated change in climatic conditions. The Global Risk Report 2018 by the World Economic Forum (WEO) places Climate Change among the top 5 risks in terms of impact and probability of occurrence: it has climbed positions after positions in recent years (D. Ruggiero, "Global Risk Report 2018: environmental and technological risks dominate the scenario "- Extreme weather events (from droughts to rainstorms in places not accustomed to them) have increased in frequency and intensity. Is it mere pessimism? Is it something we must be afraid of? No, it isn’t! All this must be tackled with healthy optimism: the time has come. Decisively our society must face the theme of 'sustainability', drastically changing the economic and energy models on which it is based. We must reduce our Ecological Footprint with little effect on our material well-being (and it is possible with the current technological knowledge). Land, nature, human and cultural capital are the things to be protected, all this requires a long-term vision in institutions, businesses and citizens.
Read more on Long Term economy, the unique model able to create a real sustainable economy.


Dario Ruggiero,
LTEconomy, 11 March 2018
Dario Ruggiero, (febbraio 2018), "CO2 CONCENTRATION IN THE ATMOSPHERE: will we reach the point of no return by 2070?"
Dario Ruggiero, (february 2018),"GLOBAL TEMPERATURE: anomalies go on - December 2017, the third highest December temperature in the 138-year record" 
Dario Ruggiero, (february 2018), "ARCTIC MELTING: in December, Arctic sea ice extent 1,000,000 square kilometres below the 1981-2010 average"
Dario Ruggiero, (february 2018), "Global Risk Report 2018: environmental and technological risks on the lead"
Dario Ruggiero, (05 settembre 2017), "Let’s struggle for a new system: the social platform is to be born"
Emanuele Bompan, (agosto 2017), Interview  with Kate Raworth: Doughnut Economy
Dario Ruggiero, (June2017), "An untroduction to Doughnut Economics, Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist", 
"What Is Long Term Economy", LTEconomy
Dario Ruggiero (curated by), (01 September 2017), Interview with David Lin (Research Director at the Global Footprint Network), "How to move back the Overshoot Day",


Become a Long Term Economy Supporter!!

Long Term Economy is a non profit organization aiming at improving the wellbeing in a long-term perspective by preserving the natural, cultural and social capital. 

Become a Long Term Economy supporter: make your donation or give your contribution