In July of this year, NASA declared it the hottest month on record since 1880, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned that the climate crisis was spiraling out of control. Recent reporting by Nature confirmed that the past 12 months were globally the hottest recorded, with unprecedented temperatures affecting 7.3 billion people worldwide, all exacerbated by global warming.
“These impacts are only going to grow as long as we continue to burn coal, oil, and natural gas,” stated Andrew Pershing, vice president for science at Climate Central.
A Climate Central report revealed that human-caused climate change significantly elevated temperatures over this period, with the Climate Shift Index (CSI) covering daily temperatures in 175 countries, 154 regions, and 920 cities.
The global average temperature in the last year was 1.32 degrees Celsius higher than the pre-industrial period, surpassing the previous record set in 2015-2016. Copernicus Climate Change Service projected 2023 to be the hottest year, reaching 1.43 degrees C above the pre-industrial average.
Pershing added, “This is the hottest temperature that our planet has experienced in something like 125,000 years.”
Tropical areas, especially in South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia, experienced the highest temperatures in the first six months, marked by a CSI value of three or above. The latter half of the year saw these impacts intensify.
The report highlighted that 25% of the global population faced dangerous levels of extreme heat, emphasizing the alarming extent of human-induced climate change on daily air temperatures. Urgent action to cut carbon emissions annually is crucial to halt this trend. Friederike Otto, a climate researcher, stated that continuing to burn fossil fuels violates basic human rights for the majority of the planet.
The report revealed that 156 cities across 37 countries experienced five or more consecutive days of extreme heat. Houston, Texas, endured the longest heatwave lasting 22 days, followed by Jakarta, New Orleans, Tangerang, and Qujing. Globally, 1.9 billion people, constituting 24% of the population, faced five successive days of extreme heat.
The ongoing El Niño, expected until at least April 2024, is likely to contribute to increasing temperatures in the following year, emphasizing the need for comprehensive global measures to address and reduce the impacts of climate change.