Scientists Sound the Alarm Amid 13 Consecutive Months of Record-Breaking Heat

Scientists on Monday underscored the urgent need to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy following the publication of data from the European Union’s climate change monitor showing that last month was the hottest June ever recorded and that 2024 is likely to be the planet’s hottest year on record.

Each month since June 2023 has been the hottest since records have been kept, the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said last week in its latest monthly bulletin.

According to the agency, June “was 1.50°C above the estimated June average for 1850-1900, the designated preindustrial reference period, making it the 12th consecutive month to reach or break the 1.5°C threshold.”

“European temperatures were most above average over southeast regions and Turkey, but near or below average over western Europe, Iceland, and northwestern Russia,” C3S noted. “Outside Europe, temperatures were most above average over eastern Canada, the western United States and Mexico, Brazil, northern Siberia, the Middle East, northern Africa, and western Antarctica.”

“Temperatures were below average over the eastern equatorial Pacific, indicating a developing La Niña, but air temperatures over the ocean remained at an unusually high level over many regions,” the agency added.

C3S Director Carlo Buontempo said in a statement Monday that “even if this specific streak of extremes ends at some point, we are bound to see new records being broken as the climate continues to warm.”

“This is inevitable unless we stop adding greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and the oceans,” he stressed.

In an interview with The Associated Press published Monday, C3S climate scientist Nicolas Julien called the new data “a stark warning that we are getting closer to this very important limit set by the Paris agreement.”

“The global temperature continues to increase,” he added. “It has at a rapid pace.”

Zeke Hausfather, a researcher at the California-based nonprofit Berkeley Earth, told Reuters, “I now estimate that there is an approximately 95% chance that 2024 beats 2023 to be the warmest year since global surface temperature records began in the mid-1800s.”

As Reuters reported Monday:

The changed climate has already unleashed disastrous consequences around the world in 2024. More than 1,000 people died in fierce heat during the Hajj pilgrimage last month. Heat deaths were recorded in New Dehli, which endured an unprecedentedly long heatwave, and amongst tourists in Greece.

“This is not good news at all,” Aditi Mukherji, who co-authored the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, told The Guardian.

“We know that extreme events increase with every increment of global warming,” she added, “and at 1.5°C, we witnessed some of the hottest extremes this year.”

The Guardian surveyed hundreds of IPCC authors earlier this year. Three-quarters of them said they expect Earth to heat by at least 2.5°C by the end of this century. Half of the surveyed scientists expect temperatures to rise above 3°C by 2100.

“It is a crisis,” said Mukherji, and one that has a clear solution, given that burning fossil fuels is the leading cause of global heating.

Antonia Juhasz, a senior researcher on fossil fuels at Human Rights Watch, told Nation of Change that “as a result of the burning of fossil fuels, heatwaves are becoming more common, and intense heatwaves are more frequent.”

“We can break the cycle, we can make oil companies stop burning fossil fuels,” she added.

Reacting to the latest C3S data, Amnesty International climate adviser Ann Harrison said on social media that “this alarming record underlines the need to urgently phase out fossil fuels, and to hugely increase climate finance.”