Lewis Diuguid

Sweating it out: July was the hottest month on record for the planet

Firefighters on Wednesday battled a wildfire on Cajon Boulevard in Keenbrook, Calif. Firefighters had at least established a foothold of control of the blaze the day after it broke out for unknown reasons in the Cajon Pass near Interstate 15, the vital artery between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Five years of drought have turned the state's wildlands into a tinder box, with eight fires currently burning from Shasta County in the far north to Camp Pendleton just north of San Diego.
Firefighters on Wednesday battled a wildfire on Cajon Boulevard in Keenbrook, Calif. Firefighters had at least established a foothold of control of the blaze the day after it broke out for unknown reasons in the Cajon Pass near Interstate 15, the vital artery between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Five years of drought have turned the state's wildlands into a tinder box, with eight fires currently burning from Shasta County in the far north to Camp Pendleton just north of San Diego. The Associated Press

It’s easy to understand why global warming deniers refuse to believe that the Earth’s temperature is climbing and human consumption of fossil fuels is to blame.

Each new bit of evidence makes the climate change warnings sound like a broken record. The latest is that National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration this week reported that July was the hottest month on record for the planet.

The temperature was 1.57 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, shattering last year’s July record of being the warmest by 0.11 degrees Fahrenheit, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information reports.

July also was the 15th month in a row to break the monthly heat record. The data go back to 1880.

“For the year to date, the average global temperature was 1.85 degrees F above the 20th-century average,” NOAA reports. “This was the highest temperature for this period, breaking the previous record set in 2015 by 0.34 degrees F.”

Some other striking data about the planet’s rising temperature:

▪ The averaged sea surface temperature was a record high for July and from January through July.

▪ The average land surface temperature on Earth tied the 1998 record high for July and the record high for the year to date.

▪ There were near-records on some continents: Asia had its second warmest July; Oceania its fourth; North America its fifth; and Africa and Europe their seventh.

▪ The average Arctic sea ice extent for July was 16.9 percent below the 1981–2010 average. This was the third smallest July extent since records began in 1979.

▪ The average Antarctic sea ice extent for July was 0.2 percent above the 1981–2010 average, marking the smallest July Antarctic sea ice extent since 2011 and the 19th smallest on record.

Human consumption of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas produces greenhouse gases, which trap heat in the atmosphere. It causes the Earth to warm, polar ice and glaciers to melt and sea levels to rise, threatening coastal areas and increasing the risk of flooding.

The warming of the planet also results in spreading droughts such as those occurring in California, states in the Southwest, in sub-Saharan African nations and countries like Iran. The recurring wildfires in California are also an outgrowth of global warming.

Thousands of people have had to flee devastating wildfires in Southern California, which have spread across nearly 50 square miles and consumed a number of homes and businesses. Five years of drought have turned much of the state into a tinder box with eight blazes burning from Shasta County in the far north to Camp Pendleton just north of San Diego.

More than 34,000 homes and about 82,000 people are under evacuation warnings as firefighters focused on trying to save residents in the mountain communities of Lytle Creek, Wrightwood and Phelan. This is the second year that wildfires from the ongoing drought have consumed property and caused residents to become global warming refugees in California.

Because of climate change, storms when they do occur are often more severe. Louisiana has borne the worst of it this summer. The southern part of that state has been slammed with rainfall and flooding, with authorities estimating that 40,000 homes have been damaged, about a dozen people killed and more than 30,000 others have had to be rescued.

The rain and flooding also have caused more than 110 state highways to remain closed, making it even more difficult for families to flee to higher ground.

About 68,000 people have signed up for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and that number is expected to rise. President Barack Obama has declared a number of parishes disaster areas. It enables residents to apply for grants and loans to help them clean up and rebuild.

But federal budgets to help people recover from floods and wildfires have been devastated from the all-too-frequent occurrences of these climate change fueled disasters.

The Paris climate change summit last year was a coordinated response of many nations to try to arrest the warming of the planet. Efforts include increasing renewable fuels from solar, wind, hydro and geothermal sources.

Conservation efforts also will have to improve in addition to a continued reduction in burning coal, gas and oil as energy sources.

But environmentalists worry that none of the efforts to save the planet is occurring fast enough to offset the effects of climate change. Their concern is that more disasters will keep occurring until ultimately they force people’s hand to act with a greater sense of urgency.

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