World News Editor
You probably felt the extreme heat hit your body when you opened the door to walk outside this past July, and you weren’t imagining things. Data that supports these findings makes it clear that climate change is on the rise, and we are feeling the effects. According to NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, July 2023 was the hottest month ever seen since temperature recording began in 1880.
The average temperature in July of 2023 was .43ºF warmer than any other July recorded and 2.1ºF warmer than the average July between 1951 and 1980. This starkly contrasts the typical “few hundredths of a degree” jump seen when most climate records occur, according to Russell Vose, a climate expert at NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information. From the Western United States, to Northwestern China, and even to Chile and Argentina, both currently in their own winters, temperatures rose above their average.
Experts warned that it is not necessarily the heat itself that can harm and kill; rather it is the duration of the heat waves that cause harm. When it doesn’t cool down much at night, our bodies don’t have a chance to cool down themselves, increasing risk of heart disease and stroke. In Phoenix, Arizona, temperatures reached above 110ºF for 31 days in a row. Similarly, temperatures spiked above 100ºF in Miami, Florida for 46 days.
While everyone clearly felt the effects here on the ground, rising temperatures impacted the oceans too. In Florida, the ocean temperatures were above 100ºF, prompting scientists to move coral nurseries to cooler water. The heightened water temperature has also increased the possible severity of the upcoming hurricane season, which only time will tell to see how extreme it actually is.
The effects of climate change have become more noticeable as global temperatures continue to rise, and each of the last five decades become hotter than the one before it. Fortunately, fossil fuel demand may be reaching its peak as countries like the US and China improve their renewable energy sources and continue to add more each and every day.