Breaking all the wrong records
August 19, 2016
The earth is changing. Not only has 2016 been record-breaking for temperatures, but devastating droughts and wildfires from East Africa to the Western US have brought attention to high temperatures around the world.
July was the hottest recorded month ever since modern record-keeping began in 1880. Both NOAA and NASA both released record data on high temperatures for 2016.
Though July is often the hottest month in a given year, this year beat the record set last year as the hottest month on earth, ever. Will the tread continue? Every month since January has set the record as the hottest month and July marked the “longest such streak in NOAA’s 137 years of record keeping.” So it’s likely that 2016 will continue to have warmer than average temperatures.
High temperatures this year were caused by a combination of global warming and El Nino, which spread warm water across the Pacific giving a boost to global temperatures. El Nino gained fame as it caused a severe food crisis in Southern and Eastern Africa. Crops have been failing, livestock dying, and people are being hit by high food prices—causing severe malnutrition across for millions of people. Wildfires are also destroying thousands of homes across the Western US and forcing people to abandon their homes as drought conditions have developed for five years.
The planet is an average 1.3 degrees Celsius (2.4 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than at the end of the nineteenth century. In 2008, an ominous movie, Six Degrees Could Change the World, was released by National Geographic depicting what would happen to the earth and humanity at large with each degree increase of warming.
If we hit two degrees Celsius, the changes the earth faces will be permanent—extreme habitat and biodiversity loss, coupled with melting icecaps and rising sea levels. Maybe we all need a reminder, in light of slow adaption of the Paris Agreement, that the global use of fossil fuels and the release of greenhouse gases is warming the planet. July and all of 2016 has given us just that. So will it work?