Things are heating up here on Earth, as the planet’s temperature sizzled to a new record high for the third year in a row, government scientists announced Wednesday, Jan. 18. The Earth reached its highest temperature in 2016, surpassing the records previously set in 2015 and 2014.
The scientists’ findings come just two days before the inauguration of president-elect Donald Trump, who has chalked global warming up to be a hoax orchestrated by the Chinese. Trump has even vowed to roll back the efforts of President Obama to reduce carbon gas emissions. However, scientists are warning that that might not be the best idea as Earth’s temperature continues to rise.
“A single warm year is something of a curiosity,” Deke Arndt, chief of global climate monitoring for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told The New York Times. “It’s really the trend, and the fact that we’re punching at the ceiling every year now, that is the real indicator that we’re undergoing big changes.”
Three governmental agencies — two American, one British — released their findings Wednesday but showed slight variations concerning exactly how much the Earth’s temperature has risen from last year. For instance, NOAA calculations indicated that the average global temperature in 2016 was 58.69 degrees Fahrenheit (14.84 degrees Celsius), topping the previous year by 0.07 degrees Fahrenheit (0.04 Celsius). The agency also revealed that 2016 was 1.69 degrees (0.94 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 20th-century average.
The Columbus Dispatch reported that NASA’s findings, which included data from the Arctic region, showed the average global temperature in 2016 was 0.22 degrees Fahrenheit (0.12 Celsius) warmer than it was in 2015. Earth’s global temperature last year was also 1.78 degrees Fahrenheit (0.99 degrees Celsius) warmer than the mid-20th Century average recorded by NASA.
The Arctic “was enormously warm, like totally off the charts compared to everything else,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies in New York.
As for the British data set, 2016 global temps only beat the previous year’s record by a small margin, according to The New York Times. But Schmidt pointed out that while these changes may seem small, rising temperatures could soon have severe impacts on the natural world and even human civilization.
“This is clearly a record,” he added. “We are now no longer only looking at something that only scientists can see, but is apparent to people in our daily lives.”
Scientists have attributed the ever-rising global temperatures to man-made emissions of greenhouse gasses and the weather phenomena known as El Niño, which naturally warms Earth’s temperature. El Niño has since ceased, but regions all over the world are still feeling the after effects of high global temperatures.
For one, the ice caps in the Arctic have melted precipitously over the past few years, causing rapid coastal erosion, while people in Africa are dying of starvation as a result of the drought, The New York Times reported. Residents of the town of Phalodi in India also experienced their hottest day on record last May — 123.8 degrees Fahrenheit.
“The warming is consistent with observations of greenhouse gasses, climate model projections and 150 years of known physics,” David Titley, director of the Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk, Penn State University, told The Washington Post. “Politicians and policymakers can’t say they weren’t warned.”
“We are heading into a new unknown,” he added. “It’s like driving on a new road, at night, at speed, without headlights, and looking only through the rearview mirror. Hope we don’t meet Thelma and Louise along the way.