Tuesday, July 4, was the hottest day ever recorded on Earth.
The average global temperature of 62.92 degrees Fahrenheit (17.18 degrees Celsius) is the highest since satellite record-keeping began in 1979. The Washington Post notes that some scientists believe it may have been one of the hottest days in the last 125,000 years.
The extreme heat is caused by a combination of climate change, the beginning of summer, and the recent return of El Niño and its warmer-than-usual sea surface temperatures. Tuesday’s record average temperature broke the previous mark of 62.62 Fahrenheit, which was set on Monday.
The unprecedented daily average temperature — which was recorded by the U.S. National Centers for Climate Prediction — is an estimate, and has yet to be certified by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. Scientists also typically rely on larger samples sizes to chart the degree to which the climate is changing. Nevertheless, the preliminary mark is another sign of how dire the climate crisis has grown.
The latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was released in March, found that the world is not making real progress toward reaching its climate goals, and that failure to take dramatic action to curb the release of greenhouse gases will lead to catastrophic warming within the next decade. The result will be increased drought, flooding, wildfire, and other severe weather events that will take a devastating toll on humanity, particularly in poorer countries. The failure to take action could ultimately threaten the species, leading to increased risk of pandemic, multiple feet of sea-level rise, and the migration of millions from uninhabitable parts of the world by the end of the century.
“This report offers hope, and it provides a warning,” IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee told reporters after the report was released. “The choices we make now and in the next few years will reverberate around the world for hundreds, even thousands, of years.”
President Joe Biden has fashioned himself as a climate-focused president and the green-energy measures in the Inflation Reduction Act mark a promising step forward — but it hasn’t been enough. Republicans, meanwhile, have either ignored or outright denied the crisis. “The environmentalists talk about all this nonsense,” Donald Trump, the leading contender to land the party’s nomination for president, told Fox News in April.
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