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Could record-breaking global temperatures finally be dropping?

Predictions from the EU Copernicus Climate Change Service suggest our year of prolonged planetary heat is coming to an end. Still, this news doesn’t indicate that climate change is easing up.

As we emerge from what felt like an especially long winter in the Northern Hemisphere, it might be easy to forget that the last year has been one of the warmest humanity has ever recorded.

Official figures indicate that April marked the 11th consecutive month of record-high global temperatures, which has not been good news for our planet’s most fragile ecosystems, especially coral reefs.

The partially good news is that this might be about to come to an end – at least if projections made by European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service are anything to go by.

Speaking to the Washington Post, climate scientist Zeke Hausfather said, ‘If 2024 continues to follow its expected trajectory, global temperatures will fall out of record territory in the next month or two.’

While this may be, it does not exactly mean that efforts to curb climate change after finally being realized. In fact, scientists recently declared that humanity will breach the internationally agreed upon 1.5C threshold within the next three years.

What do the European Scientists say?

Scientists working at the Copernicus Climate Change Service have predicted that an incoming drop in global temperatures will be attributed to changes in the Pacific Ocean.  The year of 2023-2024 – the hottest on record – saw a particularly strong El Niño system, which resulted in abnormally warm water pooling near the equator and in the Pacific Ocean.

This phenomenon is naturally occurring and is responsible for influencing weather patterns around the world. When it is particularly strong, though, it can lead to intense flooding on South American coastlines as well as prolonged drought in Southern Africa.

In recent weeks, computer models working at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have indicated that El Niño is finally weakening and will rapidly transition into La Niña, when cool water lingers in the Pacific.

This should have a chilling effect on our planet when it occurs expectedly this summer, or on the cusp of autumn.

Does this mean we’re solving the climate crisis?

Not exactly.

Scientists warn that if El Niño doesn’t follow its normal pattern of stabilizing (or shifting to La Niña) by August, then we will be in ‘unchartered territory’ and bearing witness to yet another sign of how humans have fundamentally altered our planet’s natural flows.

While we can certainly look to two weather phenomena that occur in the Pacific to understand how our planet is coping with the stress we’re placing on it, it cannot be a standalone measure.

Looking at what is happening to the natural world (destruction of biodiversity, dwindling populations of plant and animal species) as well as the experiences of communities that reside closest to it (flooding, wildfires, coastal erosion, deforestation, and urbanization), it is clear that climate crisis has never been more of a threat.

Unfortunately, news that we’re coming out of a particularly warm year on the planet is exactly the kind of ammo that climate change-deniers love to load up on when arguing against environmental campaigners and activists.

It’s important that headlines declaring that ‘Our Year Of Hellish Heat’ is over does not derail us from ensuring action to mitigate and ultimately halt climate change continues.