HUMANS HAVE BEEN KEEPING TRACK OF earth’s temperature since 1880. In those 136 years, the last year that counted as the “coldest on record” was 1911. Of the 16 warmest years on record, 15 of those years have been after 2000 (the outlier was 1998). And the hottest year of all? No drumroll necessary: it was 2015. By a mile.
The news comes from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 2015 wasn’t just the hottest year on record, it also had 10 months which were the hottest of their respective months on record. It was 20% hotter than the previous “hottest year on record.”
NASA’s press release about the cause of this heat was clear: while 2015 certainly received a boost in its heat because 2015 was an El Niño year (and El Niño years tend to be hotter than average), the main factor was manmade global warming. “The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1.0 degree Celsius) since the late-19th century, a change largely driven by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere,” the press release said.
They go on to point out that the global average temperature is just that — an average — and that an overall rise in heat does not mean that every place on earth would necessarily be hotter than usual.
This announcement comes just a month after the Paris climate talks resulted in the world’s first major international treaty on climate emissions. That treaty has yet to go into effect, and may still be derailed if climate deniers are able to prevent its ratification in enough countries.