2017 was second or third warmest year, behind 2016, says UN
2017 was second or third warmest year, behind 2016, says UN
Average surface temperatures in 2017 were 1.1 degree Celsius (2.0 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, creeping toward a 1.5C (2.7F) ceiling set as the most ambitious limit for global warming by almost 200 nations under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
Last year was indistinguishable, so far, from 2015 as the second or third warmest behind 2016, making 2017 “the warmest year without an El Niño,” the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said.
Temperatures in both 2016 and 2015 were lifted by an El Niño, a natural event which can disrupt weather patterns worldwide every few years and releases heat from the Pacific Ocean into the atmosphere.
“When even the ‘colder’ years are rewriting the warmest year record books, we know we have a problem,” said Professor Dave Reay, chair in carbon management at the University of Edinburgh.
Seventeen of the warmest 18 years since records began in the 19th century have now happened since 2000, confirming that ever more greenhouse gases are driving up temperatures, the WMO said.
Among extreme weather events last year, the Caribbean and the United States suffered a battering from hurricanes, the Arctic ended 2017 with the least sea ice for mid-winter and tropical coral reefs suffered from high water temperatures.
“Arctic warmth has been especially pronounced and this will have profound and long-lasting repercussions on sea levels, and on weather patterns in other parts of the world,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Talaas said in a statement.
The findings, which match a projection by the WMO in November, now have full-year data including from NASA, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Britain’s Met Office with the University of East Anglia.
In the United States alone, weather and climate-related disasters cost the United States a record $306 billion in 2017, especially western wildfires and hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma, NOAA said last week.
The 2015 Paris agreement, which seeks to shift the world economy from fossil fuels this century, aims to limit temperatures to “well below” a rise of 2C above pre-industrial times while pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5C.
US President Donald Trump, who doubts climate change is caused by man-made emissions, plans to quit the Paris accord.
A leaked draft of a UN scientific report shows that warming is on track to breach the 1.5C goal set by the 2015 Paris climate agreement by mid-century, unless governments make unprecedented economic shifts from fossil fuels. (Reporting By Alister Doyle; Editing by Catherine Evans)
Microsoft uncovers more Russian attacks ahead of midterms
- The hacking attempts mirror similar Russian attacks ahead of the 2016 election
- The company is offering free cybersecurity protection to all US political candidates, campaigns and other political organizations
Microsoft said Tuesday it has uncovered new Russian hacking attempts targeting US political groups ahead of the midterm elections.
The company said that a hacking group tied to the Russian government created fake Internet domains that appeared to spoof two American conservative organizations: the Hudson Institute and the International Republican Institute. Three other fake domains were designed to look as if they belonged to the US Senate.
Microsoft didn’t offer any further description of the fake sites.
The revelation came just weeks after a similar Microsoft discovery led Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat who is running for re-election, to reveal that Russian hackers tried unsuccessfully to infiltrate her Senate computer network.
The hacking attempts mirror similar Russian attacks ahead of the 2016 election, which US intelligence officials have said were focused on helping to elect Republican Donald Trump to the presidency by hurting his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
This time, more than helping one political party over another, “this activity is most fundamentally focused on disrupting democracy,” Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, said in an interview this week.
Smith said there is no sign the hackers were successful in persuading anyone to click on the fake websites, which could have exposed a target victim to computer infiltration, hidden surveillance and data theft. Both conservative think tanks said they have tried to be vigilant about “spear-phishing” email attacks because their global pro-democracy work has frequently drawn the ire of authoritarian governments.
“We’re glad that our work is attracting the attention of bad actors,” said Hudson Institute spokesman David Tell. “It means we’re having an effect, presumably.”
The International Republican Institute is led by a board that includes six Republican senators, and one prominent Russia critic and Senate hopeful, Mitt Romney, who is running for a Utah seat this fall.
Microsoft calls the hacking group Strontium; others call it Fancy Bear or APT28. An indictment from US special counsel Robert Mueller has tied it to Russian’s main intelligence agency, known as the GRU, and to the 2016 email hacking of both the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.
“We have no doubt in our minds” who is responsible, Smith said.
Microsoft has waged a legal battle with Strontium since suing it in a Virginia federal court in summer 2016. The company obtained court approval last year allowing it to seize certain fake domains created by the group. It has so far used the courts to shut down 84 fake websites created by the group, including the most recent six announced Tuesday.
Microsoft has argued in court that by setting up fake but realistic-looking domains, the hackers were misusing Microsoft trademarks and services to hack into targeted computer networks, install malware and steal sensitive emails and other data.
Smith also announced Tuesday that the company is offering free cybersecurity protection to all US political candidates, campaigns and other political organizations, at least so long as they’re already using Microsoft’s Office 365 productivity software. Facebook and Google have also promoted similar tools to combat campaign interference.