All kinds of climate records were broken in 2021, with a notable one being a new high for December of 19.4C set in Kodiak, Alaska. Meanwhile, China saw its hottest year ever, but perhaps even more dramatic than this was more than a year's worth of rain, which fell on Henan province in just three days, causing flooding, destroying homes and wrecking crops.
New data from the EU's Copernicus satellite system is showing that the last seven years have been the hottest on record, with 2021 in at number 5 in the hot charts!
The new year has already given us some eye-opening weather events. The UK saw its hottest New Year's Day on record, with 16.2C recorded at St James' Park, London. The city's Somerset House ice rink even had to close, because the unseasonal temperatures were melting the ice.
Meanwhile in Falcon Lake, Texas, residents sweltered in crazy New Year's Day temperatures of 37.2C, about 16C above the January average. By 3 January, temperatures had dropped to a shivery -5C, some 13C BELOW the January average.
Whatever we do, this kind of weird weather is going to be with us for years to come, as we've already increased atmospheric carbon dioxide to close on 418 parts per million (ppm), according to January 2022 readings from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii.
But we need to ensure that the opportunity to 'build back greener' after Covid already doesn't slip away from us. The sharp drop in CO2 emissions caused by the drastic falls in air travel and car journeys could have been the beginning of some real transformational change. Instead, we're heading back towards business as usual.
We can take enormous heart from the fact that we have so many of the solutions available to us already. With renewable energy technologies improving all the time, we already have the ability to decarbonise our world and to ensure that our children are able to enjoy their future living in harmony with their home planet, rather than being engaged in a constant battle with it.
So what we need now is the will to make it happen.
Covid has shown us what happens when humanity unites to face a common adversary. In a little more than two years since the virus first appeared, we're already in a much better position to combat it.
Climate change is a similar crisis that affects us all, except its effects aren't so immediate or urgent for everybody in the world at once. But only a united approach, global can bring about the results the planet needs. And Covid has shown that we can do it, so we should be able to do it again.
In the course of YPTE's work children often ask questions like "If people know that what they're doing is damaging the planet, why don't they stop?"
Grown-ups can find all kinds of complicated reasons why it sometimes seems too difficult to change things. But if we want our children to have a brighter future, we owe it to them to make the changes the world needs.