With last July said to be the hottest month ever, the United Nations is warning that we’ve moved past global warming. And now? We’re boiling.
“The era of global boiling has arrived,” UN secretary-general António Guterres announced today in the wake of scientific confirmation that the past three weeks have been the hottest since temperature record-keeping began, and that July will, “short of a mini-Ice Age,” almost certainly be the hottest month ever recorded.
“Climate change is here,” the Portuguese diplomat said. “It is terrifying. And it is just the beginning.”
In a tweet, Guterres laid it out even more plainly, noting that the “tragic” consequences of climate change are all around us: “children swept away by monsoon rains, families running from the flames (and) workers collapsing in scorching heat.”
The situation has been inexorably getting worse. Two years ago, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that July 2021 was, at the time, the hottest month ever — though it appears that 2023 has now surpassed it.
Earlier this month, our planet broke and then reset the record for the hottest day every three times in succession as the planet’s average temperature teetered up towards 63 degrees Fahrenheit. While that doesn’t sound particularly high as temps creep ever upward in much of the United States amid this week’s heat wave, it’s much higher than July’s monthlong average even a decade ago, which the NOAA recorded as just 60.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
This record-breaking heat is so intense, in fact, that it’s even surprising scientists.
“I personally find the magnitude of this record a bit stunning,” Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist with the nonprofit Berkeley Earth, told the Guardian. “We don’t see anything analogous in the historical record for the month of July.”
As with each subsequent warning about climate change, the secretary-general tempered his rhetoric with a faint note of hope.
“We can still stop the worst,” Guterres said. “But to do so we must turn a year of burning heat into a year of burning ambition.”