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'July Has Re-Written Climate History': Month Could Go Down as Planet's Hottest Ever

"As temperatures rise, so will we," says 350.org.

Smoke rises from a wildfire on July 3, 2019 south of Talkeetna, Alaska near the George Parks Highway

Smoke rises from a wildfire on July 3, 2019 south of Talkeetna, Alaska near the George Parks Highway. Alaska is bracing for a dangerous fire season with record warm temperatures and dry conditions in parts of the state. (Photo: Lance King/Getty Images)

The World Meteorological Organization said Thursday that July 2019 may go down as the hottest month the planet has seen thus far in recorded history.

"July has re-written climate history, with dozens of new temperature records at local, national, and global level," said WMO chief Petteri Taalas.

Using data from Europe's Copernicus Climate Change Program from the first 29 days of the month, the WMO said that July at least equaled—and may have broken—the dubious record set in July 2016.

2016, however, was marked by the occurrence of an El Niño phenomenon, which can contribute to warmer temperatures. 2019 is not. 

July's warmth followed the planet's warmest June ever recorded, according to global scientists. What's more, said the WMO, 2015 to 2019 are on track to be the warmest five years on the books.

WMO's Taalas, in his statement, noted the string of recent events that coincided with the warmer temperatures.

"The extraordinary heat was accompanied by dramatic ice melt in Greenland, in the Arctic, and on European glaciers," he said. "Unprecedented wildfires raged in the Arctic for the second consecutive month, devastating once pristine forests which used to absorb carbon dioxide and instead turning them into fiery sources of greenhouse gases."

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The WMO also pointed to the July heatwave that gripped Europe, during which cities like Paris notched new record highs. The countries of Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands broke national records for warmest temperatures.

"This is not science fiction," said Taalas. "It is the reality of climate change. It is happening now and it will worsen in the future without urgent climate action."

Groups including 350.org, Fridays for Future, and Extinction Rebellion are ready to deliver that message with a bullhorn in global climate actions scheduled for September 20 and 27.

"As temperatures rise, so will we," said 350.org on Twitter Friday.

"The hottest month in human history means it's time for the boldest climate action possible from our leaders," added the group.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres echoed the call for swift action.

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

"Preventing irreversible climate disruption is the race of our lives, and for our lives," said Guterres. "It is a race that we can and must win."

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