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U.N. Chief Warns: 'Humanity Has Opened The Gates To Hell'

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Antonio Guterres

The United Nations chief said “humanity has opened the gates to hell” in a speech Wednesday that warned that the global effort to cut planet-heating emissions is still “dwarfed by the scale of the challenge.”

It’s the latest attempt by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres to capture in a soundbite the horrors unfolding in what is on track to be the hottest year in human history. Last year, he described the planet’s trajectory as a “highway to hell.” In March, he said that “humanity is on thin ice ― and that ice is melting fast.” In July, when temperatures reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit in parts of the world, he declared the start of “the era of global boiling.”

By August, the United States tallied 23 climate disasters that eclipsed at least $1 billion in damages each so far in 2023 — with four months left before the year ends. Floods swept through Libya, killing thousands and sweeping enough bodies to sea that the tides deposited corpses on the beach like foamy driftwood. At the start of the hottest August on record, the U.N. International Children’s Emergency Fund published new data showing that heat and humidity exposed 76% of children in South Asia to extreme temperatures.


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