July 2023 is set to be the world’s hottest month in “hundreds, if not thousands, of years,” a top Nasa scientist has warned amid scorching global heatwaves driven by climate crisis sweeping the Earth.
Speaking to reporters in a roundtable, Gavin Schmidt, director of the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said the global temperature extremes are “not a surprise”, warning that the heat is only going to get worse.
“We are seeing unprecedented changes all over the world. The heatwaves that we are seeing in the US, in Europe, China, and demolishing records left, right and center. This is not a surprise,” Mr Schmidt said, according to AFP news agency.
June of 2023 was already the hottest June on record, analysis from Berkley Earth said, with the research group predicting an over 80 per cent chance that 2023 is going to be the hottest year ever on record.
However, since the world has broken several temperature records with the first week of July recording the highest temperatures ever, marine heatwaves shocking scientists and historic temperatures recorded from China to Europe and the United States.
Scientists have said this unprecedented heat is driven by the climate crisis and the emergence of the El Nino phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean, associated with hotter temperatures.
Mr Schmidt says this ensures July is on track to be the hottest month overall. The top scientist assigned a “50-50 chance” that 2023 will be the hottest year on record.
However, he warned that the next year can be even hotter with 2024 likely beating these records as El Nino, which has just begun this year, will be in full swing.
“We know from science that human activity, principally greenhouse gas emissions, are unequivocally causing the warming we are seeing on our planet,” Kate Calvin, NASA chief scientist and senior climate adviser, said at the same briefing, according to the news agency.
The scientists said that the data collected and analysed by the institute had already pointed towards this unprecedented heat.
“There has been a decade-on-decade increase in temperatures throughout the last four decades,” Mr Schmidt said.
Other experts have said the global heating is reaching new highs as the effects of natural phenomenon’s such as the El Nino are coming on top of the existing heat caused by planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.
According to UN’s top scientific panel IPCC, the world has already seen an average warming of 1.2C so far.
Scientists have been calling for reducing planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent the planet from warming over 1.5C or maximum 2C, a target 196 countries agreed to in the historic Paris Agreement of 2016.
However, experts say the target is appearing to be out of reach as greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels continue to be emitted despite temperatures becoming more and more extreme.
Professor Robert Watson, of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, told the Today Programme that he is “very pessimistic” about the world reducing emissions to limit the global average temperature to 2C above pre-industrial levels.
“We need to try and hold governments to start to act sensibly now and reduce emissions,” professor Watson said.
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