It’s been a pretty bad week for news related to the environment and climate change. All year long we’ve had a steady stream of discouraging data and information come our way, but over the past few days there have been a flurry of stories, none of which is particularly good. In case you missed some of that news, here’s a round up of what’s been going on:
Yesterday it was announced by the Copernicus Climate Change Service that October 2019 was the warmest October on record. According to the data collected by satellites and weather stations across the globe, the Earth was 1.24ºF warmer than the average temperature for that month, as compared to data collected from 1981-2010. The previous hottest October was in 2015.
Researchers say that while tropical Africa and Antarctica, as well as the western U.S. and Canada, were all cooler than normal, other parts of the world were much warmer, making up the difference. Europe, parts of the Arctic, the eastern U.S and Canada, the Middle East, much of Africa, southern Brazil, Australia, eastern Antarctica and Russia were all well above normal for the month.
These kinds of reports have become second nature in recent years however and it is almost expected that the planet will break another temperature record with each passing month. A place that knows this first hand is Longyearbyen, Norway, which now has a running record of 106 straight months with warming temperatures. Yep, you read that right, the average temperature in Longyearbyen has been increasing, as compared to that same month in previous years, for 106 months. That dates back to November, 2010 for those keeping track at home. If you’re looking for a silver lining to this story, it may be that last month was the closet to breaking that streak in a long time, with jus a .9ºC difference from last October. But when the dust settled, the streak stands, providing an interesting case study of the steady march of global warming.
Also this week, U.S. President Donald Trump, to no one’s surprise, officially announced that the country would pull out of the Paris Agreement. November 5 was the first day that he could make that move and Trump wasted no time in making the announcement. It will take about a year to officially withdraw from the historic accords, which were developed and agreed upon in an effort to try to halt global warming.
In response to Trump’s announcement, more than 11,000 climate researchers and scientists from around the planet signed a document declaring a “climate emergency” for the planet. The paper warns politicians and other scientists that they need to move away from looking at global temperature rating as a sole indicator of global warming and broaden their definition to take in a number of other variables as well. Those variables include the amount of heat stored in the oceans, the mass of the polar ice caps, growing numbers of wildfires, and the economic impact of massive storms and the damage they inflict. In other words, our world is far more complex than just a simple temperature rating indicates, although those that signed this document realize that even just a 1.5ºC increase in temperature will have a devastating impact on the planet.
That’s a quick and dirty look at some of the climate-related stories that have occurred in recent days. Sobering stuff, but definitely things we need to think about.
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