parts per million (ppm)
Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii (NOAA)
Preliminary data released September 5, 2019
This article is about the greenhouse gases that human civilization are still pumping into the Earth’s atmosphere at rates that keep pushing concentrations ever higher. It’s about carbon dioxide and other gases that are heating the planet and disrupting whole communities of people and even more, whole species of wildlife.
In the 1990s, national governments held a monumental Earth Summit and home-country ratifications of an agreement to stabilize carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere before levels got dangerous. Even the United States is a signatory of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change with ratification in the US Senate in October 1992.
Back in June 1992 when the Earth Summit was held, the atmosphere was 367 parts per million CO2 and rising an average of 1.5 ppm per year. World clocks are now about to chime 2020, and the atmosphere is 409 ppm CO2 and rising an average of 2.4 ppm per year.
To the national governments of the world, it’s time for people to ask, “Where’s the stabilization?”
Sadly, the most reliable sign of what’s going on—the atmosphere itself—does not point to stabilization ahead. It just isn’t going to happen without deliberate, widescale implementation of rapid transition strategies to move from an unsustainable hydrocarbon economy to good, green jobs and energy that keeps our air and water clean.
It’s time for people to ask energy policy makers, “Where’s the transition for stabilization, for the public good and for flourishing future?” It’s time to raise these urgent questions with national governments, policy makers and energy companies. It’s time to raise the level of our conversations above the usual climate chatter—the repetitive talk with nice-sounding words like reduce, mitigate and adapt.
It’s 2019 and time to get real by grounding climate conversations, plans and commitments with numbers that scale and connect with atmospheric that are freely available for all to see.
Scientists have learned and communicated how the Earth system sustains diverse and intelligent life in the biosphere, and which human activities are interfering. They know that securing a flourishing future cannot be achieved by continued use of fossil fuel. It is not something we will achieve by expanding infrastructure for fossil fuel extraction, transport and use. And scientists keep reminding us of the urgency. Now is the time for all peoples and leaders grounded in the solid knowledge of environmental change to kickstart local transitions and a global transformation. Now is the time to push for policy after policy—and action after action—that achieves a turnaround toward long-term sustainability. It’s time for people to come together in small and large groups, in public and private places, to multiply and multiply our focus and efforts to stabilize the rising, life-destabilizing gases in the atmosphere.
We, the human citizens of the planet, are facing a climate crisis and an unprecedented climate emergency. It’s not just because climates are changing planet wide, or because impacts keep cascading and worsening through the biosphere, or because human activities are the primary cause. No. It’s a crisis and emergency because the institutions and habits of humankind still lack a commitment to end the destabilization of the life-sustaining biosphere by any date or at any point in the future. Humanity and the planet are veering toward a future that strips away the freedom of families to flourish across generations. We are veering toward a catastrophic bust.
But rapid stabilization can be achieved at the atmospheric, planetary level when enough of us combine our voices and influence to push hard to stabilize. It’s going to take a lot of working with people we don’t know, and working on issues we aren’t familiar with. But all the other slow, half-measure alternatives lead to a bust.
July Global Temperature Change*
July Rankings: 1880 - 2019 Temperature Reocrd
Comparisons with 20th Century Global Average Surface Temperature
(Temperatures are not compared here with a pre-industrial baseline)
August 16, 2019
The July 2019 global land and ocean surface temperature departure from average was the highest for July since global records began in 1880 at 0.95°C (1.71°F) above the 20th century average. This value surpassed the previous record set in 2016 by 0.03°C (0.05°F). Nine of the 10 warmest Julys have occurred since 2005, with the last five years (2015–2019) ranking among the five warmest Julys on record. July 1998 is the only July from the 20th century to be among the 10 warmest Julys on record. July 2019 marked the 43rd consecutive July and the 415th consecutive month with temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th century average. Julys 2016, 2017, and 2019 are the only Julys that had a temperature departure from average at or above 0.90°C (1.62°F). Climatologically, July is the globe's warmest month of the year. With July 2019 the warmest July on record, at least nominally, this resulted in the warmest month on record for the globe. [NOAA/NCEI global analysis accessed August 15, 2019]
"The science is sobering—the global temperature in 2012 was among the hottest since records began in 1880. Make no mistake: without concerted action, the very future of our planet is in peril."
NOAA/NCEI annual global analysis for 2018:
The 2017 average global temperature across land and ocean surface areas was 0.84°C (1.51°F) above the 20th century average of 13.9°C (57.0°F), behind the record year 2016 (+0.94°C / +1.69°F) and 2015 (+0.90°C / +1.62°F; second warmest year on record) both influenced by a strong El Niño episode. The year 2017 is also the warmest year without an El Niño present in the tropical Pacific Ocean.
2017 also marks the 41st consecutive year (since 1977) with global land and ocean temperatures at least nominally above the 20th century average, with the six warmest years on record occurring since 2010. Since the start of the 21st century, the global temperature has been broken five times, three of those being set back to back (2014–2016). The yearly global land and ocean temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.07°C (0.13°F) per decade since 1880; however, the average rate of increase is twice as great since 1980. From 1900 to 1980 a new temperature record was set on average every 13.5 years; however, since 1981 it has increased to every 3 years.
Overall, the global annual temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.07°C (0.13°F) per decade since 1880 and at an average rate of 0.17°C (0.31°F) per decade since 1970."
[NOAA/NCEI global analysis for 2018 accessed February 18, 2019].
"Globally-averaged temperatures in 2015 shattered the previous mark set in 2014 by 0.23 degrees Fahrenheit (0.13 Celsius). Only once before, in 1998, has the new record been greater than the old record by this much."
~ NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies [NASA post of January 20, 2016]
Before the end of 2015, scientists projected that average global temperature increase for 2015 will exceed 1°C above pre-industrial levels. The years 1850-1990 are used as the pre-industrial baseline by the MET Office and Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the UK. The MET Office released this statement in November 2015:
"This year marks an important first but that doesn't necessarily mean every year from now on will be a degree or more above pre-industrial levels, as natural variability will still play a role in determining the temperature in any given year. As the world continues to warm in the coming decades, however, we will see more and more years passing the 1 degree marker - eventually it will become the norm."
~ Peter Stott
Head of Climate Monitoring and Attribution (MET Office)