The Hottest Summer on Record Threatens Stability of Life

The Hottest Summer on Record Threatens Stability of Life
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World Meteorological Organization recorded the hottest June and July ever.

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U.N. Secretary General António Guterres announced in a press conference that July 2019 was the hottest month on record.

Data for August is still being collected, but July 2019 temperatures already appear to have been as high as, if not slightly higher than, the previous record for the hottest month in history, set in July 2016. According to preliminary data from the World Meteorological Organization, average global temperatures in July 2019 were at least 2.16 degrees Fahrenheit or 1.2 degrees Celsius higher than the pre-industrial average.

“We have always lived through hot summers. But this is not the summer of our youth. This is not your grandfather’s summer,” Guterres said.

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Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG Images
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks at the Security Council stakeout at the United Nations headquarters in New York on August 1, 2019.

Jean-Noël Thépaut, head of Europe’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, which produced the temperature data cited by Guterres, sounded a similar theme. “As a citizen I am as concerned as anyone else with what is happening,” he told Rolling Stone magazine. “My children are experiencing extreme weather situations which did not exist when I was their age.” He called the climatic trends on display in July 2019 “very disturbing.”

In his remarks to the press, Guterres noted that the record-breaking July temperatures follow the hottest June ever recorded, adding: “This is even more significant because the previous hottest month, July 2016, occurred during one of the strongest El Niño’s ever. That is not the case this year. All of this means we are on track for the period from 2015 to 2019 to be the five hottest years on record.”

The impacts of global climate change are being felt around the globe, perhaps nowhere more dramatically than in the Arctic, where high temperatures have caused sea ice levels to collapse. June 2019 saw near-record lows in Arctic sea ice extent.

台北氣溫飆36.7度創今年最高
Photo Credit: CNA
On June 19, 2019, Taipei records 36.7 degrees Celsius, the highest temperature of the year.

Citing data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the climate impact tracking platform Climate Signals pointed out that there were 132 all-time-high temperatures recorded around the globe in July 2019, versus just two all-time-lows. “In a stable climate, record high and low temps are about even,” Climate Signals noted. “Human-caused warming is driving this imbalance.”

In adopting the Paris Climate Agreement, world leaders pledged to limit global warming to no more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 2 degrees Celsius, while an additional, aspirational goal included in the agreement would limit warming to just 1.5 degrees Celsius. Climate scientists have repeatedly warned that anything more than 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming could threaten the stability of life on Earth as we know it. But an analysis by the group Climate Action Tracker shows that, under current climate policies, the world is on track for 3.3 degrees Celsius of warming or more by 2100.

“This year alone we have seen temperature records shatter from New Delhi to Anchorage — from Paris to Santiago — from Adelaide to the Arctic Circle,” Guterres said. “If we do not take action on climate change now, these extreme weather events are just the tip of the iceberg. And that iceberg is also rapidly melting.”

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The News Lens has been authorized to publish this article from Mongabay, an environmental science and conservation news and information site.

TNL Editor: Daphne K. Lee (@thenewslensintl)

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