This past August was the hottest one since record-keeping began 136 years ago, according to a monthly analysis by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The new record continues the streak of record high monthly temperatures that began nearly a year ago.
The hottest month is usually July, but the most recent August tied with July for the warmest month ever recorded. That’s 0.29 degrees Fahrenheit (0.16 degrees Celsius) hotter than the second-hottest August on record, which was in 2014. It was also 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (0.98 degrees Celsius) warmer than the average August temperature from 1951 to 1980.
The monthly analysis is created using publicly available data from Antarctic research stations, instruments measuring sea surface temperature, and 6,300 meteorological stations worldwide.
In some ways, the news is no surprise, considering that every month from last October has followed this trend, and this year is predicted to be the hottest on record. Climate change trends — which President Obama has called a "terrifying" — continues to be a pressing issue. Scientists connect rising temperatures with rising sea levels that will speed up flooding along the coasts. The floods that have recently devastated Louisiana are just an example. Climate change is also partly responsible for our disappearing wilderness.
Some states are going forward with ambitious climate-change laws. In California, Governor Jerry Brown recently signed legislation to extend the state’s laws. The original law, passed in 2006, aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The new version now aims to slash emissions 40 percent below the 1990 levels by 2030.
But many argue that politics is moving too slowly. So others are proposing their own options, like the Harvard professor who wants to simulate a volcanic explosion to cool down the Earth. But until then, let’s hope that it’s no longer the basics of climate change that are being debated in this election and instead plans for how to combat it.