(CN) – July was possibly the hottest month in recorded human history, according to preliminary data from the World Meterological Organization released Thursday.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonia Guterres said “this is even more significant because the hottest month, July 2016, occurred during one of the strongest El Nino’s ever,” a period of extreme warming brought about by the warming of the ocean.
Records highs were recorded across the world in July, including 90 degrees in Anchorage, Alaska, 108 degrees in Paris and 69 degrees in the Arctic Circle. The new data comes after the organization reported the warmest June recorded. While preliminary data shows July likely to be the hottest in history, final data will be released next week.
“We have always lived through hot summers. But this is not the summer of our youth. This is not your grandfather’s summer,” Guterres said.
The past five years, including 2019, have been the hottest years on record. Guterres said Arctic Sea ice is nearing record low levels, brought by an increase of temperatures in Greenland and the Arctic.
“All of this means that we are on track for the period from 2015 to 2019 to be the five hottest years on record. This year alone, we have seen temperature records shattered from New Delhi to Anchorage, from Paris to Santiago, from Adelaide and to the Arctic Circle. If we do not take action on climate change now, these extreme weather events are just the tip of the iceberg. And, indeed, the iceberg is also rapidly melting,” he said.
WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said July has “re-written climate history” and that “time is running out” to respond to the threat of climate change.
“The extraordinary heat was accompanied by dramatic ice melt in Greenland, in the Arctic and on European glaciers. Unprecedented wildfires raged in the Arctic for the second consecutive month, devastating once pristine forests which used to absorb carbon dioxide and instead turning them into fiery sources of greenhouse gases. This is not science fiction. It is the reality of climate change. It is happening now and it will worsen in the future without urgent climate action,” Taalas said.
Guterres said greenhouse gas emissions have to be reduced 45% by 2030 in order to combat the ever increasing extreme weather conditions.
“Preventing irreversible climate disruption is the race of our lives and for our lives,” he said. “It is a race we can and must win.”