It was bound to happen. With temperatures rising year after year, largely as an effect of man-made greenhouse gas emissions, multiple parts of the globe have broken temperature records. Now, NOAA has recently announced that based on its measurements, July 2021 was the hottest month in recorded history.
“In this case, first place is the worst place to be,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. “July is typically the world’s warmest month of the year, but July 2021 outdid itself as the hottest July and month ever recorded. This new record adds to the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe.”
Around the globe, temperatures were scorching. The combined land and ocean surface temperature was 1.67 degrees F (0.93 of a degree C) above the 20th-century average, making this the hottest July since records began 142 years ago. It was 0.02 of a degree F (0.01 of a degree C) higher than the previous record (set in July 2016, and tied in 2019 and 2020).
Several regional records were also set. Asia also had its hottest July on record (beating its 2010 record), while Europe had its second-hottest July on record. However, virtually all regions on the Earth had an all-time top-10 warmest July.
This was no coincidence or freak occurrence. Although some years are naturally cooler or hotter, the warming trend in the past 60 years is clear. Temperatures have been increasing steadily and show no sign of slowing down.
It’s telling that this past month was the hottest in recorded history — and we’ll likely be writing many more articles like this one in years to come — but ultimately, it’s the trend that matters more; and the trend is going up.
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few decades, the reason why temperatures are rising is human activity. Man-made greenhouse gas emissions (mostly from burning fossil fuels) are causing a greenhouse gas effect, warming the atmosphere and every corner on Earth. Although we normally talk about global heating in the form of averages, some areas get much hotter than others.
It’s very (very) likely that 2021 will rank among the world’s 10 warmest years on record, and it’s also likely that most years to come will also be among the top 10 hottest years — if we don’t take action to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. A recent comprehensive report from the IPCC concluded that humans are “unequivocally” causing global warming and that we need to amp our efforts as quickly as possible to avoid the worst effects of the damage.
“Scientists from across the globe delivered the most up-to-date assessment of the ways in which the climate is changing,” Spinrad said in a statement. “It is a sobering IPCC report that finds that human influence is, unequivocally, causing climate change, and it confirms the impacts are widespread and rapidly intensifying.”