In a few weeks, 2015 will officially go down as the hottest year on record, and 2016 is likely to be even worse, the UN's World Meteorological Organization announced Wednesday. “This is all bad news for the planet," the Wall Street Journal quotes WMO director-general Michel Jarraud. This year's global average temperature was 58.5 degrees Fahrenheit at the end of October. The Christian Science Monitor reports that's 0.27 degrees warmer than the average temperature in 2014. And while the naturally occurring El Niño is partially to blame, scientists estimate it likely accounts for less than 20% of the temperature increase. According to the Journal, 2011 to 2015 has been the warmest five years on record.
The WMO made its announcement only days before a two-week global summit on climate change in Paris, Reuters reports. According to the Journal, the goal of the international conference is to get both developed and developing countries to agree to measures cutting greenhouse gas emissions. “Greenhouse gas emissions, which are causing climate change, can be controlled,” Jarraud says. “We have the knowledge and the tools to act.” According to the Monitor, the WMO wants to keep global average temperatures within 2 degrees Celsius of what they were in preindustrial times. Right now the Earth is about 1 degree over. "The more we wait for action, the more difficult it will be," Jarraud says. He adds that ordinary citizens can help by using public transportation and insulating their homes. (Read more global warming stories.)