Climate change: July 2016 smashed a record that we really didn’t want to break

At the time of writing, 79 world records have been broken at the Rio Olympics. Without wanting to break the party atmosphere too much, I thought I’d round the number up to an even 80 by highlighting another record – albeit one that nobody should celebrate. July 2016 was the hottest month ever recorded, according to NASA data.

At this point, you may be thinking that you’ve read this news story before. In a sense you have. February 2016 was the hottest February on record, April 2016 was the hottest April on record and 2015 was the hottest year on record. In fact, in the field of devastating temperature rises, we’re in a golden age, with this latest increase marking the tenth consecutive month of broken records.

But while previous months were merely the hottest months on record (as in “the hottest February”, “the hottest March,” and so on), NASA data states that July was the hottest month since records began back in 1880, bar none. July 2015 was knocked into second place – and bear in mind that the temperature then was boosted by El Niño still kicking around.

READ NEXT: Is El Niño changing the weather?

While NASA says this is the tenth consecutive month in which the world’s temperature has smashed records, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration measures things differently. It states the terrifying trend stretches back over a year, meaning that if it backs up NASA’s data when it releases its figures next week, it’ll show 15 consecutive months of record-breaking heat.

All of this means that, according to Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, we have a 99% chance of 2016 being the hottest year on record. Look away now if you’re not a fan of graphs that make you panic for the future of the human race.

Actually, don’t look away, because this is incredibly serious. Especially when the targets the world agreed at COP 21 just nine months ago are already looking woefully inadequate.

Image: Takver, used under Creative Commons

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