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High temperatures have hit the planet hard. Photo: Rosy — Pixabay.

July close to become the warmest month on record, scientists say

According to records, the seventh month of 2023 has been the hottest in the last 120,000 years.

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According to a report by the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service and the World Meteorological Organization released Thursday, July will likely become the month with the hottest temperatures ever recorded on the planet, far surpassing the previous record.

The study highlights that normally, these records, which register the average air temperature around the world, are exceeded by hundredths of a degree, something that changed significantly during the first 23 days of July, when it averaged 62.51º (16.95 degrees Celsius), well above the previous record of 61.93º (16.63 degrees Celsius) set in July 2019.

Samantha Burgess, Copernicus deputy director, pointed out:

We are seven months into 2023 and almost every month this year has been in the top five hottest on record.

Historical facts

Although recorded data to measure average temperatures date back to 1940, several scientists believe these may be the hottest temperatures Earth has felt in 120,000 years, based on millennia-old climate data gleaned from tree rings, coral reefs, and cores of deep marine sediments.

"It's scary to remember that another decade from now, this is going to be seen as a relatively cool year, in all probability. If people don't like what they're seeing this summer, they're going to be in for quite a shock with the increased levels of warming at we're headed," Kim Cobb, a Brown University climatologist who was not involved in the report, told CNN.

The hottest day

On July 6, the world experienced its hottest day ever recorded, when the global average temperature rose to 62.74º (17.08 degrees Celsius), according to Copernicus data, surpassing the previous record of 62.24º (16.8 degrees Celsius) established in August 2016.

Ocean heat also reached record levels in mid-May, when global ocean surface temperatures hit "record levels" for the time of year.

"These are the warmest temperatures in human history," Burgess added.

Human cost

In the Mediterranean, more than 40 people have died from wildfires raging in the region, fueled by high temperatures, while in Asia, prolonged and intense heat waves are claiming lives and threatening food security.

In the United States, meanwhile, temperatures have exceeded 120º (50 degrees Celsius), leading to an increase in heat-related deaths and fatal burns from falls onto the scorching ground.

As temperatures rise, PJM Interconnection, the country's largest power grid system, has declared an emergency alert. The move brings all systems online, including those with planned outages.

PJM coordinates electricity for more than 65 million people in all or part of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington.

White House actions

“For years, heat has been America’s #1 weather-related killer. Over 600 people die annually from its effects – more than from floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes combined. And it hits vulnerable folks the hardest,” posted President Biden on his Twitter account. 

These are the actions proposed by the Biden Administration to deal with the severe heat wave in the United States:

  • Issuing a first-ever heat Hazard Alert that clarifies worker protections from hazardous conditions. 
  • Intensifying enforcement and increasing inspections in high-risk industries like construction.
  • Making buildings more energy efficient and opening cooling centers to help keep residents safe.
  • Expanding water storage capacity across western states.
  • Launching a new partnership to improve our nation’s weather forecasts. 

“My Administration is announcing additional steps to help states and cities fight extreme heat. The naysayers on climate change can’t deny the impact it’s having on Americans,” underscored Biden.

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