“The era of global warming has ended; the era of global boiling has arrived,” warned United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in a speech delivered on Thursday at the UN headquarters in New York City. These alarming remarks focused on the new data released by the European Union and the World Meteorological Organization, indicating that July is on track to be the hottest month ever recorded.
According to the ERA5 data from the European Union-funded Copernicus Climate Change Service, the first three weeks of July have been the warmest three-week period on record. The full ERA5 data for July will be published on August 8. The previous hottest month on record was July 2019.
The heat, labeled a “cruel summer” by Guterres, has impacted vast parts of North America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. “For the entire planet, it is a disaster,” he stated, clarifying that the intense heat across the northern hemisphere is indicative of the planet’s shift from a phase of global warming into an “era of global boiling.”
Climate Change in the United States
On Thursday, much of the United States was engulfed in what the National Weather Service referred to as “a dangerous heat wave.” Major cities like Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Boston, and the New York City metro area were under heat advisories and warnings. Numerous high maximum and high minimum temperature records are expected to be shattered through Saturday, warned the National Weather Service.
The same day, President Biden emphasized the severity of the soaring temperatures and their relation to climate change. Calling it an “existential threat,” he stated, “I don’t think anybody can deny the impact of climate change anymore.”
In response to these conditions, the Biden administration requested the Department of Labor to issue a Hazard Alert, aiming to protect workers from heat under federal law. According to the White House, there have been 436 work-related deaths caused by heat exposure since 2011, and thousands are hospitalized annually due to heat. The Hazard Alert is intended to guide employers in safeguarding workers from extreme heat and inform workers about their rights.
Efforts for Mitigation
To assist future preparations, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is utilizing $7 million from the Inflation Reduction Act to enhance weather forecasting. “The need for actionable weather information never ends, and neither do our efforts to make that information as accurate as possible,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad in a written statement.
President Biden also announced a $152 million investment from the Inflation Reduction Act to augment water storage capacity in drought-affected areas of California, Colorado, and Washington.
Despite the grim circumstances, Guterres argued that it is still feasible to limit global warming to 1.5° Celsius above preindustrial levels, as stated in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, but it necessitates “dramatic, immediate climate action.”
Demands for Action
“All this is entirely consistent with predictions and repeated warnings. The only surprise is the speed of the change. Climate change is here. It is terrifying, and it is just the beginning,” said Guterres. He urged fossil fuel companies to transition towards clean energy, calling for detailed transition plans across their entire value chain: “No more greenwashing. No more deception.” Moreover, Guterres insisted on developed countries fulfilling their commitments to provide $100 billion per year in climate support to developing countries. He also demanded a more aggressive approach from the global financial system in battling climate change. Ahead of the Climate Ambition Summit in September, Guterres challenged developed countries to commit to achieving carbon neutrality by 2040, and emerging economies by 2050.
Wrapping up his plea for climate action, Guterres stated, “The evidence is everywhere: Humanity has unleashed destruction. This must not inspire despair, but action.”
Visit the official website of NOAA for more information.