The Hottest Year in History Has Chilling Consequences

sweltering desert sun

February 7, 2017

The news is stifling: 2016 was the warmest year on record for Planet Earth. In fact, world temperatures soared to a new high for the third year in a row. Independent research by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reveal the earth’s global temperature last year was the highest it’s been since scientists began collecting data in 1880.

“I fear this news will become like the car alarm at the mall. It just keeps happening, but no one pays attention,” Marshall Shepherd, director of atmospheric sciences at the University of Georgia tells the Washington Post. “The fact that we are consistently seeing some of the warmest years on record is a big red flag.”

Fueled by excess heat trapped in the earth’s atmosphere, the average surface temperature in 2016 was 0.07 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the previous year and 1.69 degrees above the 20th-century average of 57 degrees.

Federal scientists recognize that temperatures were elevated by man-made greenhouse gases as well as El Niño, a climate pattern that causes extreme weather conditions. However, NOAA’s Deke Arndt, chief of the Climate Monitoring Branch, said the natural climate cycle contributed to a quarter—perhaps one-third—of the 2016 record. Broken successively five times since the year 2000, the earth’s temperature escalation is clearly not a fluke.

What Can Be Done?

The magnitude of climate change and our warming planet can be disheartening. But personal lifestyle changes to reduce our individual carbon footprints are indeed impactful, especially en masse. If there’s one thing we can remember as a society to help us collectively combat climate change, it’s to be efficient:

  • Buy food in bulk rather than individual packages
  • Invest in energy-saving appliances and weatherize your home
  • Create your own energy by installing a solar system
  • Shop and second-hand stores and donate old items
  • Don’t drive when you can walk or bike / commute with a coworker
  • Replace old appliances (such as your HVAC) with a modern, efficient model
  • Only keep the lights on when you’re in that room
  • Compost and grow your own herbs and vegetables

An efficiency mindset also helps keep money in the bank. With the prevalence of worldwide weather events—from heat waves and droughts to widespread flooding and wildfires—having a cushion is increasingly important. El Niño has waned, but greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels continue building up in the atmosphere.

Reducing the future risk of extreme weather is more important than ever—and there’s a role for every individual to play.

Want to contribute to a greener planet by becoming more energy efficient at home? Contact Ygrene at (855) 901-3999;