Scientists Blame People For 3rd ‘Hottest Year’ In A Row
Everyone kind of knew this was coming, but many are still sweating at the news. Data for 2016 has been released, and it’s official that last year was the hottest year on record, following 2014 and 2015 in holding this status, the Guardian reports. NASA and NOAA released their year-end stats along with the UK’s Met Office, and 2016 narrowly edged out 2015 as the year with the highest globally averaged temperature since such measurements began in 1880. The average temperature across the planet’s land masses and oceans came in at 58.69 degrees Fahrenheit, which was what USA Today calls a “whopping 1.69 degrees above average”—and the paper notes that while an almost-2-degree difference sounds small, records in climate science are often surpassed in tenths or hundredths of degrees. “Nature is sending a distress call,” a World Wildlife Fund spokesman says.
Sixteen of the past 17 hottest years have been since the turn of this century, and Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann stresses that humans are indeed to blame, telling the Guardian “the effect of human activity on our climate is no longer subtle.” Mann says “about 75% of the warmth” last year was people-driven, per the New York Times, and that its impacts—including droughts, wildfires, floods, and other extreme-weather phenomena—are obvious. Some scientists are also turning a wary eye to the incoming Trump administration in the wake of this news, with the policy director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment noting that climate change-denying politicians “will be willfully turning a blind eye to rising risks” for everyone.