SOURCE: Rolling Stone
DATE: August 1, 2019
SNIP: July 2019 is now the hottest month in recorded history, the U.N. confirmed on Thursday.
At a press conference in New York, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres announced that the month of July had reached 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, a figure that “at least equaled if not surpassed the hottest month in recorded history,” according to data released by the World Meteorological Organization. Temperature information from July is still streaming in, but preliminary data show last month’s warmth is roughly on par, or perhaps slightly warmer than the previous record of July 2016.
In cities and towns around the world, record high temperatures outpaced record low temperatures on nearly a 3-to-1 basis during July, underscoring the fact that this crisis is being felt almost everywhere, by almost everyone.
But there’s an added madness to this crisis. In its annual Statistical Review of World Energy released a few weeks ago, the global oil giant BP confirmed that in 2018 the world burned the most fossil fuels of any year in history. In short: Our addiction to fossil fuels is getting worse and worse even as the planet gets hotter and hotter.
The world’s current climate policies point to an unlivable future. Scientists are increasingly convinced that if warming rises above 1.5 degrees, cascading ecological and meteorological tipping points could threaten the stability of human civilization. The current level of action, if sustained, would result in global warming of about 3.3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, and surpass 1.5 degrees as soon as 2030.
The new record is especially concerning to scientists because it happened in the absence of a strong El Niño, a periodic natural warming of the Pacific Ocean that tends to boost temperatures worldwide. The previous record, during July 2016, was set during one of the strongest El Niños ever measured.
That a new record was achieved without these extreme conditions “further demonstrates the relentless march upward of global temperatures driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases,” according to Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist at the University of California-Berkeley, which maintains an independent global temperature record to that of the WMO.
The hottest month in history should make the stakes of our time crystal clear: Either we change everything, or the consequences of planetary warming will do that for us.