As bombastic businessman Donald Trump — who famously claimed that climate change is a business hoax created by China — prepares for his Friday inauguration as president, NASA issued a bombshell report this morning outlining how serious the problem is.
The last 12 months have been the hottest on record and the world needs to take "urgent action," according to the latest analysis from the space agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In a Wednesday morning press conference, the research organizations announced:
1. Earth’s 2016 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern recordkeeping began in 1880.
2. 2016 was the third record-breaking year in a row.
3. Globally-averaged temperatures in 2016 were 1.78 degrees Fahrenheit (0.99 degrees Celsius) warmer than the mid-20th century average.
4. 2016 temperatures continued a long-term warming trend caused by burning fossil fuels.
5. Because weather station locations and measurement practices change over time, there are uncertainties in the interpretation of specific year-to-year global mean temperature differences. However, even taking this into account, NASA estimates 2016 was the warmest year with greater than 95 per cent certainty.
6. The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-created climate pollution into the atmosphere.
7. Most warming occurred in the past 35 years, with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record occurring since 2001.
8. Not only was 2016 the warmest year on record, but eight of the 12 months that make up the year – from January through September, with the exception of June – were the warmest on record for those respective months.
9. October, November, and December of 2016 were the second warmest of those months on record – in all three cases, behind records set in 2015.
Despite Trump, more Americans 'very worried' about global warming
In other climate news, Yale's Program on Climate Change Communication released results of a recent survey that came out before NASA's report. It shows that a growing number of Americans "are increasingly sure global warming is happening."
The proportion of Americans who think global warming is happening was 70 per cent in 2016 – nearly matching the highest level measured since November 2008 (71 per cent), Anthony Leiserowitz, Ph.D. Director, Yale Program on Climate Change Communication wrote in an email this morning.
From very sure to extremely sure
It's a subtle difference, Leiserowitz writes, but "Americans are now also more certain it is happening. The proportion who are 'extremely' or 'very' sure global warming is happening (45 per cent) is at its highest level since 2008, he reports, adding that "the number of Americans who are 'very worried” about global warming has reached a record high (19 per cent) since our surveys began in 2008.
"A majority of Americans (61 per cent) say they are 'very' or 'somewhat' worried about the issue – nearly equal to the highest level last seen in 2008 (62 per cent). Likewise, Americans increasingly view global warming as a threat. Since Spring 2015, more Americans think it will harm people in developing countries (65 per cent, +12 points), people in the U.S. (59 per cent, +10 points), future generations (71 per cent, +8 points), their family (46 per cent, +5 points), and themselves personally (41 per cent, +5 points)."
What are Canadians thinking about global warming?
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Linda Solomon Wood, with editorial assistance from Chris Hatch, and files from NASA and Yale