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Summer of Scorch: What’s in the Future?

The last nine years have been the hottest recorded, and 2023 will likely top those, with more record-breaking years projected ahead

Sometimes, it feels like we are living in a zombie apocalypse, and it’s not just from binge watching the Last of Us.   The best escape from the weather craziness of this past summer was to hop on a spaceship like Matthew McConaughey did in the movie Interstellar and take a break from Earth’s insanity.

It’s been crazy, and it’s getting crazier. The hottest summer on record for the World as a whole, has caused epic record-breaking wildfires across Alberta and Canada, drought, grape-fruit-sized hail and tornadoes on the prairies, as well as hurricanes and floods on the east coast of Canada.  

You know things are goofy when the weather has been the leading headline in the news almost daily.

At one point, the wildfire smoke resulted in parts of Canada having the worst air quality in the world, forcing people indoors or, worse, causing mass evacuation from their homes.

The Hottest Summer Ever

This year, the world experienced the warmest June, July and August ever recorded according to Copernicus Climate Change Services (C3S). June, July, and August were 0.53°, 0.72°, and  0.71° degrees Celsius higher than the 1991-2020 average.

The heat didn’t stop with the end of summer. September also set new records. It was the hottest September ever, with temperatures 1.75°C above what they were before industries started pumping out pollution and 0.93°C warmer relative to the 1991-2020 average! These four record-breaking months will likely contribute to making 2023 the hottest year ever recorded. 

Chart showing 2023's global temperatures are riding high above the baseline averages recorded between 1940-2022.
2023’s global temperatures are riding high above the baseline averages recorded between 1940-2022. Source: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

What’s the Future Looking Like?

The trend of rising temperatures isn’t slowing down. 

The last nine years in a row have been the hottest recorded, and 2023 will likely top those! Even though natural weather patterns like La Niña, which cools things down, have been active during that time period, the heat just kept rising.

Currently, we’re switched to an El Niño phase, which warms things up. This means that 2024 might be even hotter than 2023.

Various sources provide different projections for 2024 and beyond. A new study suggests that global warming is on track to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial averages in the early 2030s​. 

That’s hard to imagine! No amount of ice cubes in our drinks or wet towels on our foreheads is going to help.

However, other projections are more dire, stating that there’s a one-in-five chance that global temperatures will reach the 1.5°C mark in at least one year between 2020 and 2024, with a seven-in-ten chance that this threshold will be surpassed in one or more months by 2024​​.

No matter which studies you think are more accurate, they all point to the same conclusion: global warming is accelerating faster than initially predicted, and adding huge carbon inputs from things like wildfires and deforestation only speeds the warming up.

Michael E. Mann, a renowned climatologist, says that as long as we keep producing carbon pollution, these record-breaking years will continue. 

Chart showing projected timeline for reaching1.5 degrees C based on current temperature trends
Projected timeline for reaching1.5 degrees C based on current temperature trends. Source: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

What Can We Do?

But there’s hope. If we stop emitting harmful heat-trapping pollution, global warming will slow its upward trajectory, although it won’t stop immediately. There is a lag time before the temperature levels out and stops rising. This lag time is all the more reason for us to do things as soon as possible to reduce our carbon footprint.

 For a list of 100 things that can be done to achieve this goal, see the recommendations by drawdown.org

The wild weather events in Canada and the record-breaking heat worldwide clearly show our climate is changing, and not for the better. Scientists are still sounding the alarm… but what seems to be grabbing our attention is not what scientists tell us, but what nature is doing to us! 

Extreme weather in never-ending cycles of shattered records is getting most of us to finally pay attention. A changing climate is no longer an academic thought exercise but a reality that is hitting us hard.

While most of us are not yet ready to board the Interstellar spaceship, if collectively we don’t take action, tickets for the space ride to escape Earth’s heat will be hotter than the tickets were for a Taylor Swift concert.

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