The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Friday that last month saw the highest temperatures since record keeping began 142 years ago.
“In this case, first place is the worst place to be,” NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said in a statement. “July is typically the world’s warmest month of the year, but July 2021 outdid itself as the hottest July and month ever recorded. This new record adds to the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe.”
The combined land and ocean surface temperature was 1.67 degrees Fahrenheit (or 0.93 degree Celsius) above the 20th-century average of 60.4 degrees Fahrenheit (or 15.8 degrees Celsius). The hottest month on record had previously been tied between July 2016, July 2019 and July 2020, according to the NOAA.
The picture is particularly bleak for the Northern Hemisphere, where the land temperature was 2.77 degrees Fahrenheit (or 1.54 degrees Celsius) above the 20th-century average.
Earlier this week, a new 4,000-page report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change put the global crisis in simple terms.
“It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land,” the report read.
Scientists do not make such conclusive statements lightly. The report ― which resulted from the work of 234 scientists from 66 countries ― confirmed what the broader scientific community already knew: Humans are causing global warming, which is in turn amplifying extreme weather.
And it’s going to get worse. The report stated that “every region” of the globe is projected to increasingly experience “concurrent and multiple changes in climatic impact-drivers,” meaning effects like sweltering heat and flooding.
The worst consequences can be avoided only with massive changes in human behavior led by governments in order to slow the burning of fossil fuels and clearing of land for agriculture, among other factors. Leaders from some 200 nations, plus Pope Francis, will address the issue in November at the U.N. Climate Change Conference, to be held in Glasgow, Scotland.