It’s official: 2016 was the hottest year on record. And it trounced the previous record held by—you guessed it—2015. Prior to that you had to go all the way back to 2014 for the year that held the record.
In the nearly 140 years of accurately kept temperature records, there has never been a three-year run of record-breaking like we’ve just experienced. It has some climate scientists worried because it’s possible reality will be worse than predicted. In fact, climatologists have been anticipating this kind of change in global temperatures for some time although not necessarily this soon. One 2015 study concluded that we could possibly witness Arctic warming rise by an alarming one degree Fahrenheit each decade starting by the 2020s.
Only extremely aggressive reductions in carbon emissions can offer many coastal cities at risk for the flooding tragedies that will most surely come in mere decades if things don’t change. (Lost property will only be the tip of the iceberg: a global economic crisis and millions of climate refugees will be problems we will all have to deal with.)