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New data highlights concerning months-long temperature trend through winter: 'As remarkable as this might appear, it is not really surprising'

"February joins the long streak of records of the last few months."

"February joins the long streak of records of the last few months."

Photo Credit: iStock

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed in January that 2023 was the hottest year on record. With the way things are going in 2024, it might not be long until that concerning statistic is topped.

What's happening?

Climate monitoring service Copernicus reported that February 2024 was the warmest second month of the year on record. 

As CNN detailed, Copernicus revealed February was about 3.2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.77 degrees Celsius) warmer than the average temperature in preindustrial times. Furthermore, four consecutive days during the month were 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) warmer than the same days (Feb. 8 to 11) in the preindustrial period.

While that alone is concerning, it also represents another troubling milestone. February marked the ninth consecutive month that temperature highs were recorded. 

"February joins the long streak of records of the last few months," director of Copernicus Carlo Buontempo said, per CNN. "As remarkable as this might appear, it is not really surprising as the continuous warming of the climate system inevitably leads to new temperature extremes."

Why is this so concerning?

The El Niño weather event results in temperature fluctuations every two to seven years and might be a factor behind the increased temperatures, but the figures still speak to an unsustainable pattern.

El Niño isn't an isolated weather phenomenon, and building on a base of already high thermometer readings — thanks to human activities — will only push us closer to or beyond the 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) global heating rise limit (compared to preindustrial times) set out in the Paris Agreement

While we might be in an elevated temperature cycle, that doesn't mean we should dismiss recent concerning readings as a fluke. We all need to play our part to reduce rising temperatures, which contribute to extreme weather events like flooding, drought, wildfires, and deadly storms.

What can be done to keep temperatures down?

Climate scientist professor Hannah Cloke from the University of Reading in the U.K. gave a stark warning to CNN, saying that if we ignore the evidence of global heating, "our children's generation, and all those that follow, will be justified in pointing to the people who lived in 2024 and cursing our reckless stupidity."

But there are things we can do to make a difference, whether big or small. Taking advantage of renewable energy sources, like solar and wind, can reduce our reliance on an electricity grid that still relies on dirty energy to create power. According to the World Bank, the energy sector produces about 40 percent of global emissions of the planet-warming gas carbon dioxide.

On a much larger scale, you can contact your local representatives to push the case for planet-friendly initiatives or make your voice heard at the ballot box to vote for climate-conscious politicians. 

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