Energy systems are the engine of economic and social development. Energy is essential to practically all aspects of human welfare – access to water, agricultural productivity, health care, education, job creation, environmental sustainability and more. Energy investments represent a sizeable portion of Gross Domestic Product but, at the same time, energy sector emissions account for the largest share of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.
All life depends on a healthy planet, but the interwoven systems of atmosphere, oceans, watercourses, land, ice cover and biosphere, which form the natural environment, are threatened by human activities. The Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) programme provides reliable scientific data and information on aerosols, greenhouse gases, selected reactive gases, ozone, ultraviolet radiation and precipitation chemistry (or atmospheric deposition).
Natural hazards are severe and extreme weather and climate events that occur in all parts of the world, although some regions are more vulnerable to certain hazards than others. Natural hazards become disasters when people’s lives and livelihoods are destroyed.
When it comes to the weather and climate, most of us think only about what is happening in the atmosphere. If we ignore the ocean, however, we miss a big piece of the picture: covering some 70% of the Earth’s surface, the ocean is a major driver of the world’s weather and climate.
It is now clear that these changes are indicators of the effects of human activities elsewhere on Earth and will have profound effects on human society around the world if they continue. The sensitivity of the polar regions is increasingly understood as an issue of global significance.
Human health and the wellbeing of individuals and communities are closely linked with weather and climate conditions. Through its Members, WMO provides weather and climate services to the public health community. Furthermore, in 2014, WMO partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) to establish a unique Joint Office for Climate and Health, located at the WMO.
Some 3.5 billion people reside in urban areas. This number is projected to reach 6.3 billion by 2050, increasing from 50% to more than 70% of the world’s population. Cities are centres of creativity and economic progress but they also face many environmental challenges due mainly to air pollution and weather, climate and water-related hazard.