On November 21, residents of Buffalo, New York were walloped by a record-breaking 88 inches of snow. Some individuals, even in the U.S. government, took this as evidence enough that global warming is not real. Yet despite this November snowfall in one city in America, 2014 is shaping up to be one of the hottest years on record – potentially the hottest of all time.
According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the first 10 months of 2014 have been hotter than any previous 10-month period. This past October tied with 2005 for the hottest on record, a trend that has been equaled or surpassed by May, June, August and September 2014. Barring a colder December than California has ever felt before, there is a 99 percent chance that this year will prove to be the hottest in the state’s history.
Thus far, the average global temperature between January and October has been 0.68 degrees Celsius higher than the 20th century average, which could lead to severe repercussions for coastal cities and desert communities as ocean levels rise and water becomes a scarce commodity.
The UN’s recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded with 95 percent certainty that the burning of fossil fuels is a prime driver of climate change, as the gases that are emitted trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere and gradually warm both the oceans and the land. If the Earth warms above two degrees Celsius by the end of this century, the resulting impacts from extreme weather events will be disastrous for humans around the world.
“It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to be a skeptic of the causes of our warming planet,” says CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam.
Referring to NOAA’s October report, Van Dam says that the warming is significant for its widespread distribution.
“Most notably, this record warmth is not contained to any specific part of the world. Meaning, we are all in this together,” he says. “So far this year, record-breaking warmth has been observed in at least every continent and major ocean basin of our planet. This is something we cannot ignore.”
Despite this fact, the G20 continues to spend $775 billion to subsidize the production and use of fossil fuels.