The grim numbers are still being compiled, but as part of its year-end 2014 wrap-up, ClimateCentral (an excellent source, by the way, for climate change news) is reporting that last year is virtually guaranteed to be the hottest year in the history of the planet for the entire time in which records of such things have been kept. Just think about that for a moment. 2014 was the hottest year ever.
If you’re thinking you’ve heard something like this before, it’s because you have. It’s not your imagination that it seems every year there’s a new “201_ [fill in the blank] is going down as the hottest year on record!” It’s not just media hype, but it’s because heat records continue to be broken year after year. I learned a startling statistic from the ClimateCentral article. Do you know when the last time was that planet Earth had a colder-than-average month? Three hundred and fifty-eight months ago. That was 29 years ago. The last time average temperatures over the entire Earth were cooler than average for a period of one month, Ronald Reagan was in the White House, the new hit show was ALF, and Judas Priest was recording their Turbo album.
But it’s not just average temperatures or global temperatures that tell the whole story. Climate change impacts different parts of the world in different ways. The situation in the Arctic, for example, is much worse than many other places; it’s warming much faster there than elsewhere on Earth. Much of this excess heat is going into the oceans, resulting in deleterious effects like the bleaching of coral. And oddly–much to the delight of climate change deniers–the fact that some places (like Australia) are getting much hotter means that other places are getting colder in the winter, such as the United States, where we’ve been pummeled by “Polar Vortex” events several times during 2013 and 2014. Basically, if there’s a weather anomaly somewhere in the world, chances are good that it’s related to climate change.
In combating climate change, we must keep our eyes focused on solutions. But as the evidence of what mankind’s industrial processes are doing to the planet keeps mounting, we need to be cognizant of it.