WASHINGTON (February 6, 2019)—NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) announced today that 2018 was the fourth hottest year worldwide on record.
Below is a statement by Brenda Ekwurzel, director of climate science and senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
“Despite the recent cold snap across the Midwest and East Coast, the planet is still heating up, and the warming is unprecedented. The Earth has taken a walloping since 2014. The last five years rank as the hottest on record globally—far and away hotter than previous years with temperatures running roughly 1 degree Celsius warmer than pre-industrial times. Temperatures for 2018 came in just behind the three years preceding it with 2016 ranking hottest year yet.
“Eighteen of the nineteen warmest years since record keeping began have occurred since 2001. That means kids graduating from high school have only known a world of record-breaking temperatures. With global emissions rising for the second year in a row, this disastrous trend shows no signs of changing any time soon.
“The new normal is a world with stronger hurricanes, polar vortex shifts, recurrent high tide flooding, life-threatening heat waves, longer wildfire seasons and more rain during heavy downpours. It also comes at a cost—with both the loss of human lives and catastrophic economic impacts. According to NASA and NOAA, there were a total of 14 billion-dollar weather and climate disaster events in the U.S. in 2018 alone, costing the nation $91 billion in direct economic damages and resulting in 247 deaths. These included the terrible wildfires in California and the devastating hurricanes Florence and Michael, all of which bear the fingerprints of climate change.”
For years, climate change has been grossly ignored by President Trump, as well as Congress writ large. With roughly one decade left to tackle this problem head on, House Democrats have signaled that the climate crisis is at the top of their agenda by scheduling a slew of hearings on the subject this month, including one today at which Ekwurzel will testify.
Government shutdowns can delay the collection and timely release of important scientific information, as was the case with the information released today.