Raging wildfires and apocalyptic smoke. Huge algal blooms visible from space turn seafood on the Pacific Northwest toxic. California’s drought. Alberta’s drought. Alberta’s floods.
There’s no doubt: it’s hot and weird out.
According to officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) July was the hottest month ever recorded, putting 2015 well on track to beat out 2014 for the hottest year on record. Records date back to 1880.
NOAA climate scientists Jake Crouch said the new data “just affirms what we already know: that the Earth is warming.”
“The warming is accelerating and we’re seeing it this year.”
According to figures released by the NOAA, the average temperature for July was 16.6 Celsius (61.86 degrees Fahrenheit). That beats out previous record highs from 1998 by 0.08 C (0.14 F).
July also broke the record for ocean warmth. The average sea surface temperature was 0.75 C (1.35 F) above the 20th century average.
Keith Stewart, climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada, said when it comes to breaking temperature records we’re just getting started.
“I think from now on out the anomaly will be when a year or a month isn’t the hottest ever. These things do go up and down but the trend is upwards so we’re going to continue breaking records until we take serious action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and even then the warming is going to continue for decades,” he said.
NOAA climate scientist Marshall Shepherd said he is concerned the seriousness of breaking pervious temperature records may not be hitting home with the average person. “I worry the public will grow weary of reports of new records each month,” he told the Canadian Press.
“I am more concerned about how the Earth is starting to respond to the changes and the implications for my children,” he said.
Breaking temperature records “is an abstract thing,” according to Stewart.
“But when people see the drought in northern Alberta, and in northern B.C., the wildfires, flooding in other parts of the country, this is where it’s really hitting home. Those things you simply can’t ignore.”
“By choosing not to act on climate we’re making a decision to increase future suffering.”
Climate scientist Michael Mann said not only are we anticipating 2015 to be the hottest year on record, but “now we learn that we just saw the hottest single month Earth has experienced since record-keeping began.”
He said the evidence points out the absurdity of climate science deniers: “the continuing false claims by climate change deniers that global warming has somehow stopped become more ludicrous by the day.”
Mann said despite what deniers claim, the warming carries on.
“It is time to act by reducing carbon emissions before it is too late, and we lock in ever more dangerous and potentially irreversible changes in our climate.”
Stewart said he agrees with the way President Obama’s science advisor John Holdren put it.
“He said there are three things we can do about climate change: we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions so that we warm less, we can adapt so when the impacts hit they don’t hurt as much, and we can suffer.”
“We are going to do all three but the policy choices we make determine how much we do of each,” Stewart said.
“The more we change our energy system to low-carbon, the less we’ll suffer
That’s the kind of choice we need to be putting in front of people. So when people see these records being broken they know there is actual suffering that goes along with that.”
Image Credit: Wildfire near Kelowna, B.C. Brian Davis via Facebook