2023 is officially the hottest year in the last 250,000 years
We are living through global warming in real time.
This week, it was confirmed that 2023 is the hottest year in the past 125,000 years — meaning we’ve already lived through the warmest 12 months in human history (give or take a few years).
While we still have over a month until 2024, EU scientists have said it’s ‘virtually certain’ that this year will be the hottest in recorded history, after five consecutive months of ‘record-obliterating temperatures’.
October smashed the previous temperature record, from 2019, by a significant margin.
‘The record was broken by 0.4 degrees Celsius, which is a huge margin’ said C3S Deputy Director Samantha Burgess, who described October 2023 temperatures as ‘very extreme’.
Globally, the average surface air temperature in October was 1.7 degrees Celsius warmer than the same month in 1850–1900, the pre-industrial period.
All 7.3 billion of us were exposed to global-warming-caused temperatures for at least 10 days throughout 2023. A quarter of us faced dangerous levels of extreme heat.
‘These impacts are only going to grow as long as we continue to burn oil and natural gas’ says Andrew Pershing, the vice-president for science at Climate Central.
‘This is the hottest temperature that our planet has experienced in something like 125,000 years’.
The main cause of this heat spike is said to be human-induced climate change, combined with natural variations in the climate such as ocean-warming.
But for countries closer to the equator, the impacts were more severe. Places like Jamaica and Rwanda were exposed to temperatures that were made over 4 times more likely by climate change.
It’s estimated that 700 cities with populations of at least 1 million experienced extreme heat this year, with daily temperatures that are expected to occur less than 1% of the time in those regions.
The increasing prevalence of climate-related disasters has led to a sense of helplessness among many. It’s a stark reminder that the consequences of our collective actions are no longer confined to the future — they are unfolding before our eyes.
It’s not just sweaty brows that are disrupting our daily lives.
Changing climate patterns are impacting traditional growing seasons, leading to crop failures and food shortages. The delicate balance that sustains our global food supply is teetering on the edge, prompting calls for innovative and sustainable solutions to ensure food security in the face of climate uncertainty.
But as news of rising temperatures becomes more common, there’s a risk we’ll become increasingly disillusioned by the realities of climate change.
Today, natural disasters and economic disruption are disconcertingly commonplace in our everyday lives.
It’s especially easy to de-compartmentalise these issues if you’re not in the demographics most affected. Coastal communities are on the frontline of climate change, as sea levels threaten to engulf low-lying areas.
And poorer countries are significantly more at risk due to crowded cities, high-pollution levels, and weaker economies.
While the scientific community has long warned of the consequences of unchecked climate change, the reality of 2023 being the hottest year in 125,000 years serves as a wake-up call.
It challenges us to reevaluate our priorities, rethink our consumption patterns, and advocate for policies that prioritize sustainability over short-term gains.