/ 22 July 2014

Climate: May, June 2014 the hottest months since 1880

People on vacation at the Llandudno Beach in Cape Town.
People on vacation at the Llandudno Beach in Cape Town.

Nobody under the age of 30 has lived through a month that was cooler than the 20th century average. May and June were the hottest such months since records began in 1880. 

The average world temperature for June was 16.22°C and for the last 28 years June has been warmer than the 20th century average. This is according to data released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

Four of the five hottest May and June months ever recorded have happened since 2010. The only year that this did not happen was in 1998 when a strong El Niño – which warms the Pacific Ocean – pushed global temperatures to record highs.

The last time May or June was cooler than the 20th century average was 39 years ago. 2013 was the warmest year since 1998, making it the seventh hottest in recorded history. 

In its latest report, the United Nation’s body on climate change – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – said that there was a 95% “certainty” that humans were driving global warming. This was thanks to the burning of fossil fuels and a proliferation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, it said.

‘Severe, pervasive and irreversible’
If emissions were not curbed, the effects of climate change would be “severe, pervasive and irreversible”, the organisation said. It said that average temperature increases across Africa would exceed 2°C by the end of the century, if urgent action was taken.

If nothing was done on emissions this would happen by mid-century, and a temperature increase of 6°C would happen by 2100, it said.

“Africa as a whole is one of the most vulnerable continents due to its high exposure and low adaptive capacity.” South Africa had an advantage because it had infrastructure in place that could be “climate proofed”, along with expertise in the sector, it said.

2013 was the seventh warmest year in recorded history, continuing a trend of record years since the turn of the millennium. The World Meteorological Organisation said global land and sea temperatures were 0.48°C above average for last year. The organisation is the United Nations body tasked with collating meteorological information across the planet. 

World governments will meet in Paris next year for Congress of the Parties 21, where a binding climate change agreement should be signed. It will come into force in 2020.