It’s Getting Hotter In Here

Fourteen of the last fifteen years will be the hottest years in recorded history.

Fourteen Of The Last Fifteen Years Will Be The Hottest Years In Recorded History

We already know that man-made climate change is happening, but yesterday delivered us another shocking statistic to further confirm the threat. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in Geneva and the U.K.’s Met Office both released new reports finding that 2014 would likely be the hottest year ever recorded. (The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a similar report two weeks ago.)

The Met Office released the chart below to demonstrate the extent of increased temperatures since 1850.

We know it’s pretty complicated, so bear with us as we walk through some of its most critical points.

1. Including 2014, the 21st century will have hosted fourteen of the fifteen hottest years in recorded history. Not coincidentally, the five next hottest years all took place just before the end of the Millennium between 1990 and 2000.
2. If this year’s trends continue as WHO, Met, and NOAA say they will, then 2014 will be the fourth time the hottest year record was broken since 1997 (1998, 2005, 2010, 2014).
3. The graph in the upper right corner shows the shocking comparison between the last two decades (red and orange) and the century from 1850 to 1950 (purple and blue). Global temperatures 150 years ago were more than a full degree Celsius cooler than they are now.

Joe Romm at ThinkProgress puts these figures in perspective:

It is not remarkable that we keep setting new records for global temperatures — 2005 and then 2010 and likely 2014. Humans are, after all, emitting record amounts of heat-trapping carbon pollution into the air, and carbon dioxide levels in the air are at levels not seen for millions of years, when the planet was far warmer and sea levels tens of feet higher. The figure above from the Met Office makes clear that humans continue to warm the planet.

In the words of WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud, “There is no standstill in global warming.”

These reports continue to prove why it’s imperative that the United States and other countries crack down on carbon dioxide emissions. It’s why the Obama administration’s new EPA clean power rules are so important. It’s also why the United States’ recent deal with China to limit carbon emissions is so crucial. As the world’s two largest carbon dioxide emitters, China and the U.S. play leading roles — and only with concerted global action can we make a significant dent in future emissions.

BOTTOM LINE: Climate deniers will continue to ignore organizations like WMO and the Met Office and the NOAA. But the facts are the facts: the world is getting warmer. These latest reports remind us in shocking fashion what we already know: We need to immediately address humanity’s role in climate change head on, or risk permanently endangering the health of future generations and of the planet.

Like CAP Action on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.