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A resident stands on his roof as the Blue Ridge Fire burned back in October in Chino Hills, Calif. Photo: Jae C. Hong/AP

Apocalyptic weather is the new normal because humans are "waging war on nature," the UN declared on Wednesday.

What they're saying: "The state of the planet is broken," said UN Secretary-General António Guterres, reports AP. “This is suicidal.”

The big picture: 2020 will go down as one of the three warmest years on record.

  • The World Meteorological Organization said this year is set to end about 2.2°F warmer than the last half of the 1800s.
  • That's a half degree away from the limit set by the Paris climate accord, which could be exceeded by 2024, the WMO said today.

Among the dozens of extremes of 2020, from the WMO report:

  • Record 30 Atlantic named tropical storms and hurricanes.
  • Death Valley had the hottest temperature on Earth in the last 80 years.
  • Record wildfires in the western U.S. and record heat in Australia.
  • Record wildfires and a prolonged heat wave in the Arctic.
  • Record low Arctic sea ice was reported for April and August, and the yearly minimum, in September, was the second lowest on record.

Between the lines: It's projected to get worse before it gets better, judging by current fossil fuel production projections, reports Axios' Ben Geman.

Reproduced from The Production Gap Report: 2020 Special Report; Chart: Axios Visuals

The bottom line: Guterres urged American students and citizens to do “everything you can” to get their governments to curb emissions more quickly, because no climate plan works without the U.S. playing a major role.

Go deeper

Amy Harder, author of Generate
Jan 25, 2021 - Energy & Environment
Column / Harder Line

Biden ushers in historical turn on clean energy and climate change

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Like the curve of Earth we can’t see from the ground, we’re on a curve in history that we won’t fully recognize until decades in the future.

Driving the news: The inauguration of President Biden completes an economic and political consensus that climate change is an urgent threat the world should aggressively address. Whether this consensus produces action remains deeply uncertain.

Minnesota governor denounces alleged police violence against media

Law enforcement officers pepper spray freelance photographer Tim Evans (L) as he identifies himself a working journalist outside the Brooklyn Center police station on Friday. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Gov. Tim Walz (D) spoke out Sunday over allegations that journalists covering unrest in the Twin Cities suburb of Brooklyn Center have endured police violence, telling CBS Minnesota: "Apologies are not enough, it just cannot happen."

Why it matters: Since violations of press freedoms came to national attention last year, with reports of journalists being arrested and assaulted while covering anti-racism protests, violent encounters with law enforcement seem to have become the norm.

7 hours ago - World

In photos: Students evacuated as wildfire burns historic Cape Town buildings

Firefighters try, in vain, to extinguish a fire in the Jagger Library, at the University of Cape Town, after a forest fire came down the foothills of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa, on Sunday. Photo: Rodger Bosch/AFP via Getty Images

A massive wildfire spread from the foothills of Table Mountain to the University of Cape Town Sunday, burning historic South African buildings and forcing the evacuation of 4,000 students, per Times Live.

The big picture: Visitors to the Table Mountain National Park and other nearby attractions were also evacuated and several roads including a major highway, were closed. South Africa's oldest working windmill and the university's Jagger Library, which houses SA antiquities, were among the buildings damaged.

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