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Climate change

Yup, 2019 was the second-hottest year on record

January 15, 2020
A koala.
A koala.Photo by Cris Saur on Unsplash

It’s official: 2019 was the second-warmest year on record, and the 2010s were the hottest decade.

That’s according to a joint report Wednesday from NASA and the NOAA, which stressed that greenhouse-gas emissions from cars, power plants, and other human activity are the primary cause.

The details: The report added that warming has been particularly pronounced during the last five years, and that every decade since the 1960s has been hotter than the last.

A separate analysis released by Berkeley Earth on Wednesday came to the same broad conclusions. It found that the global mean temperature in 2019 was 1.28 °C (2.31 °F) above the average temperature of the late 19th century.

The hottest year in many places: In fact, last year was the hottest on record in 36 nations, including Australia, Hungary, Kenya, Thailand, and Vietnam, according to Berkeley Earth. Ditto for the continent of Antarctica. Still another study this week concluded that 2019 was the hottest ever for the world’s oceans, which have absorbed the majority of the planet’s warming to date.

Making the problem worse: Despite these rising temperatures and climate-driven extreme events, the world as a whole has continued to pump out ever more carbon pollution. Fossil-fuel emissions rose an estimated 0.6% last year, capping three straight years of growth, the Global Carbon Project reported in early December. Since carbon dioxide takes about a decade to reach its full warming effect, we’ve already locked in much more warming to come.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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