Signs of Climate Change: June of 2010 the Hottest on Record

If this summer feels like a scorcher, it isn’t just you. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, on a worldwide basis June of 2010 was the hottest June ever recorded. While there were certainly other factors at play besides climate change, the finding is part of an overwhelming body of evidence showing the effects of climate change are being felt, and the planet is on average growing progressively warmer. Contrary to the claims of climate science deniers, global warming is not only real, but is happening now.

Worldwide land and ocean surface temperature data from NOAA show last month wasn’t just the hottest June recorded since record-keeping began in 1880—it was a full 1.22 degrees Fahrenheit above average June temperatures for the twentieth century. June of 2010 marked the 304th month in a row hotter than the twentieth century average for that month. Obviously there are many factors that affect the global climate, and we’ll see a certain amount of up and down variation from month to month and year to year. But the overall trend toward warmer worldwide temperatures is unmistakable.

It would be foolish to conclude that because planet-wide temperatures were hotter on average last month, this necessarily means the same was true in every part of the world. Indeed, some regions can expect to actually see colder temperatures as climate change progresses; last winter’s heavy snowfall in the eastern United States may itself have been among the effects of climate change. But despite a snowy beginning in certain parts of the US, 2010 is likely to turn out to be the warmest year ever recorded, breaking the through the record previously held by 2005. As of now, six years hold a tie for the honor of second-hottest year ever. All six date from either the last couple years in the 1990s, or from the first decade of the twenty-first century.

There’s simply no denying any more that human activities are changing the climate. And in years to come, as the effects of climate change are felt more acutely and the overall warming trend continues, policymakers are going to be under increased pressure to reduce carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels. The coming shift to cleaner energy sources is inevitable, and innovators who invest in renewable energy early are likely to see big payoffs.

Like the global climate, public confidence in the certainty of climate change will rise and fall to a certain extent. But with the plane growing warmer, the trend in public opinion will also become irreversible. Citizens of countries around the world will demand solutions of their leaders, spurring policymakers to ease the transition to clean energy generation. It’s a bad time to be investing in infrastructure for coal or oil, but a great moment to get in on clean tech.

What do you think? In what ways can we expect to see rising global temperatures spur the transition to a lower-carbon economy?

Photo credit: jetsandzeppelins