NASA has some unsettling news.
In 140 years of modern record-keeping, 2019 was the second hottest year on record, which means that 19 of the last 20 years are now the warmest in recorded history.
In a video just over one-minute long, NASA gives a succinct rundown of climate trends since 1880. In 2019, Earth, relentlessly warming, was more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit (just over 1 degree Celsius) warmer than it was in the late 1800s. As the space agency pointed out, this warming resulted in 2019’s unprecedented fires and the ramped-up melting of Greenland’s vast ice sheet.
“We crossed over into more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit warming territory in 2015 and we are unlikely to go back,” Gavin Schmidt, the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in a statement. “This shows that what’s happening is persistent, not a fluke due to some weather phenomenon: We know that the long-term trends are being driven by the increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”
Earth’s atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions, a potent greenhouse gas, are now skyrocketing. CO2 levels haven’t been this high in at least 800,000 years — though more likely millions of years. What’s more, carbon levels are now rising at rates that are unprecedented in both the geologic and historic record.
NASA’s temperature record matches the results of other research agencies, like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and draws on data collected from over 20,000 weather stations.
Earth’s warming trend is accelerating. The last decade was the warmest on record. “Every decade since the 1960s clearly has been warmer than the one before,” said Schmidt.