Shortly after the last presidential race in the U.S. the Yale Program on Climate Change conducted its bi-annual Climate Change in the American Mind national survey. They found that the number of Americans “very worried” about global warming had reached a record high (19 percent), since first measured in 2008. A majority of Americans (61 percent) said they are “very” or “somewhat” worried about the issue — nearly equal to the highest level recorded in 2008 (62 percent).
The public’s fears were confirmed as both the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA recently released independent analyses by their agencies showing that earth’s global surface temperatures in 2018 were the fourth warmest since 1880.
In a 2019 press release Gavin Schmidt, the Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, indicated that the average global surface temperature has risen about 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius), since the 1880s. He explained that this warming has been driven in large part by increased emissions into the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases caused by human activities.
Not every region on earth experienced similar amounts of warming as weather dynamics often affect regional temperatures. NOAA found the 2018 annual mean temperature for the contiguous 48 United States was the 14th warmest on record.
The press release stated that warming trends are strongest in the Arctic region, where 2018 saw the continued loss of sea ice. In addition, mass loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets continued to contribute to sea level rise. Schmidt also said that increasing temperatures can also contribute to longer fire seasons and some extreme weather events.
“The impacts of long-term global warming are already being felt-in coastal flooding, heat waves, intense precipitation and ecosystem change.”
Photo courtesy of NASA