It’s confirmed. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA have confirmed that 2014 was the hottest year of the last 134 years.
NOAA has been tracking worldwide temperatures since 1880, and of the last 134 years, 2014 was 1.24°F (0.69°C) warmer than any year on record. It’s an alarming trend that’s been going for thirty tears. At the time, the 1980s were the hottest decade on record. Then the 1990s stole that top prize, until the 2000s set a new record for hottest decade. The world’s oceans were also at record high temperatures in 2014, on average 1.03°F (0.57°C) above the previous 20th century average of 60.9°F (16.1°C).
And it looks like the warming will continue with the 2010s on track to beating the previous heat record.
Global temperature records are usually set when a long-term warming trend combines with an El Niño warming pattern. El Niño and La Niña are opposing phases of the so-called El Niño-Southern Oscillation cycle. The temperature between the ocean and atmosphere in the east-central Equatorial Pacific regularly fluctuates, warming and cooling the planet.
But the El Niño-Southern Oscillation cycle can’t account for the changing global temperatures we’re seeing. Human carbon pollution has raised atmospheric carbon dioxide to levels we haven’t seen in millions of years — when the Earth was significantly hotter and sea levels were as much as 100 feet higher. Last spring, the concentration of carbon dioxide hit 402 parts per million, the highest level recorded in the last 800,000 years.
Dr. Marshall Shepherd, former President of the American Meteorological Society, put this into a very interesting perspective: “If you are younger than 29 years old, you haven’t lived in a month that was cooler than the 20th century average.”
If human carbon pollution isn’t curtailed, we could see a global temperature rise of 7ºF to 9ºF (4°C to 5°C) or more over the next century. That would be the planetary equivalent of a fever that would ravage modern human civilization. The Earth will survive, but will we? We really need to make a change.