In a grave warning, the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has declared that “humanity is in a dangerous situation” following the record-breaking heatwave in July 2023, making it the hottest month ever recorded on Earth.
Data published by the United Nations (UN), the European climate agency, and the Copernicus institution revealed that the average temperature during the first three weeks of July 2023 was significantly higher than the previous record set in 2019.
Alarmingly, 21 out of the 30 hottest days ever recorded occurred during July 2023.
A separate analysis of the July temperatures conducted by weather scientist Karsten Haustein from Leipzig University indicated that July 2023 was approximately 0.2 degrees Celsius warmer than July 2019.
Dr. Haustein went on to express that not only was July 2023 the hottest month in recorded history, but it might also be the hottest in thousands, if not tens of thousands, of years.
Global temperatures in July 2023 were 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the average July temperatures before the industrial era, according to data from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Copernicus Earth Observation Program of the European Union (EU).
The increase in global average temperatures, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, has exacerbated extreme weather events by trapping sunlight and creating a greenhouse effect around the planet.
“All of this is entirely consistent with repeated predictions and warnings. The only surprise is the speed of the changes. Climate change is here, frightening, and this is just the beginning.
The era of global warming is over. The era of global boiling has arrived,” Guterres stated, as quoted by The Guardian on Tuesday (1 Aug).
The scorching heatwave has swept across various parts of the world, affecting southern Europe, Southeast Asia, North Africa, and the United States.
High temperatures have resulted in devastating wildfires in Greece, Canada, and Algeria.
On 16 July, a temperature of 52.2 degrees Celsius was recorded at the Sanbao weather monitoring station in Turpan, Xinjiang province, China, setting a new record for the country. Even in the Antarctic, which is currently in winter, temperatures have broken previous records.
The impact of these extreme temperatures on Earth’s inhabitants has been significant.
Associate Professor Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, a weather scientist from the University of New South Wales, highlighted the suffering caused by temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) during heatwaves in places like Italy and Greece. She emphasized the difficulty of adapting to such extreme conditions, regardless of one’s resilience.
In his address, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for faster and more ambitious action, including new greenhouse gas reduction targets from G-20 nations and increased investment in climate-related initiatives.
“The air we breathe is no longer safe, the heat is unbearable, and benefiting from fossil fuels while taking no climate action is no longer acceptable. There is no more doubt, no more excuses, no more waiting for others to act first. There is no more time for that,” he asserted.
Guterres believes that it is still possible to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid the worst climate scenarios, but only through swift and dramatic climate action.
He acknowledged some progress, such as the strong emergence of renewable energy and positive steps taken by sectors like shipping. However, he emphasized that the acceleration of temperature rise demands an equally accelerated response.
“We have made some progress, but it’s not enough or not fast enough,” Guterres stated. The urgency of the situation calls for immediate, united, and bold measures from nations and individuals alike to combat the escalating climate crisis.