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, according to a UN report. (Shutterstock)
Updated 18 January 2018
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2017 was second or third warmest year, behind 2016, says UN

OSLO: Last year was the second or third warmest on record behind 2016, and the hottest without an extra dose of heat caused by an El Niño event in the Pacific Ocean, the United Nations said on Thursday.
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)


Tesla in Autopilot sped up before Utah crash

Updated 25 May 2018
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Tesla in Autopilot sped up before Utah crash

  • Heather Lommatzsch, the driver of the vehicle, told police she thought the vehicle’s automatic emergency braking system would detect traffic and stop before the car hit another vehicle.
  • Police say car data show Lommatzsch did not touch the steering wheel for 80 seconds before the crash. She told police she was looking at her phone at the time and comparing different routes to her des
SALT LAKE CITY, US: A Tesla that crashed while in Autopilot mode in Utah this month accelerated in the seconds before it smashed into a stopped firetruck, according to a police report obtained by The Associated Press Thursday. Two people were injured.
Data from the Model S electric vehicle show it picked up speed for 3.5 seconds shortly before crashing into a stopped firetruck in suburban Salt Lake City, the report said. The driver manually hit the brakes a fraction of a second before impact.
Police suggested that the car was following another vehicle and dropped its speed to 55 mph to match the leading vehicle. They say the leading vehicle then likely changed lanes and the Tesla automatically sped up to its preset of 60 mph (97 kph) without noticing the stopped cars ahead of it.
The police report, which was obtained through an open records request, provides detail about the vehicle’s actions immediately before the May 11 crash and the driver’s familiarity with its system.
The driver of the vehicle, Heather Lommatzsch, 29, told police she thought the vehicle’s automatic emergency braking system would detect traffic and stop before the car hit another vehicle.
She said she had owned the car for two years and used the semi-autonomous Autopilot feature on all sorts of roadways, including on the Utah highway where she crashed, according to the report.
Lommatzsch said the car did not provide any audio or visual warnings before the crash. A witness told police she did not see signs the car illuminate its brake lights or swerve to avoid the truck ahead of it.
Lommatzsch did not return a voicemail Thursday. A Tesla spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
The car company has said it repeatedly warns drivers to stay alert, keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of their vehicle at all times while using the Autopilot system.
Police say car data show Lommatzsch did not touch the steering wheel for 80 seconds before the crash. She told police she was looking at her phone at the time and comparing different routes to her destination.
She broke her foot in the crash and this week was charged with a misdemeanor traffic citation. Online court records do not show an attorney listed for her.
The driver of the firetruck told police he had injuries consistent with whiplash but did not go to a hospital.
Tesla’s Autopilot system uses cameras, ultrasonic sensors and radar to sense the vehicle’s surrounding environment and perform basic functions automatically.
Among those functions is automatic emergency braking, which the company says on its website is designed “to detect objects that the car may impact and applies the brakes accordingly.” Tesla says the system is not designed to avoid a collision and warns drivers not to rely on it entirely.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said it is investigating the May 11 crash.
Tesla’s Autopilot has been the subject of previous scrutiny following other crashes involving the vehicles.
In March, a driver was killed when a Model X with Autopilot engaged hit a barrier while traveling at “freeway speed” in California. NHTSA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating that case.
This week, Tesla said Autopilot was not engaged when a Model S veered off a road and plunged into a pond outside San Francisco, killing the driver.
Earlier in May, the NTSB opened a probe into an accident in which a Model S caught fire after crashing into a wall at a high speed in Florida. Two 18-year-olds were trapped and died in the blaze. The agency has said it does not expect Autopilot to be a focus in that investigation.