Climate scientist Zeke Hausfather has gained attention for his striking description of September’s record-setting heat wave as “absolutely gobsmackingly bananas.” Despite the humorous phrasing, the underlying issue of rising global temperatures is a matter of great concern.
Hausfather’s observation is grounded in data that reveals the extent of the temperature anomalies experienced in September 2023. A graph shared by Hausfather on social media (referred to as “X” in the text) charts temperature anomalies for each year by decade, dating back to the 1950s. Each year is color-coded by decade, and the graph shows fluctuations in temperature anomalies by month.
The graph paints a clear picture of the situation: September 2023 is a dramatic outlier, standing significantly above all other anomalies recorded in the past several decades. This visual representation highlights the severity of the temperature anomaly observed during that particular month.
Moreover, according to data from the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, the average global temperature in September 2023 reached 61.48 degrees Fahrenheit, breaking the standing record for the month, set in 2020, by nearly a full degree. Climate scientists use preindustrial temperatures as a baseline to assess the impact of human activity on global warming. To prevent irreversible damage, many experts agree that global temperatures should not exceed 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above the 1850-1900 norm.
However, September 2023 surpassed this threshold, reaching 3.15 degrees above preindustrial norms from the mid-1800s.
While it can be challenging to directly attribute the cause of each weather anomaly to human activity, experts emphasize that the overall trend of temperature records being broken underscores the impact of ongoing fossil fuel burning. Transitioning to cleaner technologies, such as electric vehicles, induction stoves, and heat pumps that do not rely on dirty energy, is one way to limit planet-warming air pollution.
Additionally, individual actions like planting trees, reducing paper towel use, planting gardens, and finding creative ways to reduce food waste can contribute to a cooler and cleaner future. Mature trees, for example, can remove 48 pounds of air pollution annually.
In the face of record temperatures and climate change, individuals and societies have opportunities to make choices that can help mitigate the impacts of global overheating and promote a more sustainable future.