Climate scientist Zeke Hausfather (@hausfath) is making headlines for his comical description of September’s record-setting heat wave, calling it “absolutely gobsmackingly bananas,” according to his post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
He wasn’t joking, however, and the planet’s overheating — highlighted by high mercury in early autumn — is no laughing matter. It’s part of a year that set heat records around the world.
What’s the problem?
A graph shared by Hausfather on X tells the story. It charts temperature anomalies for each year by decade, dating to the 1950s. Rises and dips in the lines (color-coded by decade) note temperature anomalies by month. Most years are grouped together, with some exceptions here and there.
September 2023 is a clear outlier on the graph, marked high above all other anomalies.
The first global temperature data is in for the full month of September. This month was, in my professional opinion as a climate scientist – absolutely gobsmackingly bananas. JRA-55 beat the prior monthly record by over 0.5C, and was around 1.8C warmer than preindutrial levels. pic.twitter.com/mgg3rcR2xZ— Zeke Hausfather (@hausfath) October 3, 2023
“September would not have been out of place as a typical July this decade in terms of global temperatures,” Hausfather posted on X.
Moreover, Time reported that the average global temperature in September was 61.48 degrees Fahrenheit, citing data collected by the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. That measurement broke the standing record for the month, set in 2020, by nearly a full degree.
Climate scientists use preindustrial temperatures (before 1900) as a baseline to compare how dirty energy and industry are impacting the planet’s overheating. To prevent irreversible damage, many climate scientists agree that global temperature averages can’t surpass the norm from 1850-1900 by more than 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, MIT reported.
While that threshold is intended for long-term trends, Time reported that scientists are concerned about September’s anomaly as part of the overall warming course, including dangerous ocean overheating.
What’s the cause?
It’s hard for climate scientists to directly attribute the cause of each weather anomaly to human activity. But Friederike Otto, from the UK’s Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, told CNN that heat record trends make it clear.
“Temperature records continue to be broken because we have not stopped burning fossil fuels. It is that simple,” she said.
What can be done to help?
By simply planting a tree, you can contribute to a future with cooler, cleaner air. A mature tree clears 48 pounds of air pollution each year, according to the Arbor Day Foundation.
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