If you felt August was hotter than ever, you were correct. New data released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States found that this past August was the warmest worldwide since records began in 1881. Last May was also the warmest May in recorded history.
If the temperature trend continues, 2014 could turn out to be the hottest year on record planet-wide, exceeding 2010, which has been the hottest so far.
August’s average temperature was about 0.8 degree Celsius above the average, with an average land and ocean surface temperature of 16.35 degrees Celsius, compared with the 20th-century average of 15.6 degrees.
Even that seemingly small amount is serious, according to scientists, since even a small increase could have a massive effect on the delicate balance of the biosphere, including triggering a feedback mechanism.
Most of the increase is from human factors. The certainty of climate change resulting from greenhouse gas emissions has long been established.
Politics and society unfortunately continue to lag far behind. The collapse of talks aimed at setting global limits on greenhouse gases five years ago in Copenhagen was a major disappointment.
Much more remains to be accomplished to control the continued rise. Scientists report that, in 2013, greenhouse gas emissions jumped 2.3 percent, indicating that things are not getting better as was the case for a few years after the last agreements, but again getting worse.
Lasting and effective treaties are necessary to control further damage. It remains to be seen whether world leaders, such as U.S. President Barack Obama, can help to put effective treaties in place.
The need for all countries to come together in a common understanding with regard to the process of climate change and the search for effective solutions is surely one of the largest challenges of global politics ever.
The idea that controls placed on greenhouse gases and other forms of pollution harm or slow economic growth has been shown to be more myth than reality. New studies show that putting a price on carbon is sensible, effective and, more accurately, in line with the “free market.” Yet getting countries to act on that understanding is still difficult.
Reducing carbon emissions by pricing them in terms of their actual effects on the economy, society and individuals would readjust markets accordingly.
Japan hosted the last major set of binding obligations, known as the Kyoto Protocol, which actually resulted in improvements after it was adopted in 1997 and entered into force in 2005. Perhaps that previous success could move Japan to host the next round of discussions on limiting and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. A new protocol is desperately needed.
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