Astronomer Phil Plait has been updating the same post on his fabulous blog Bad Astronomy for the last year:

October. November. December. January. February. March. April. May. June. July. And now August.

For the sixthseventheighthninth10th 11th month in a row, we’ve had a month that has broken the global high temperature record.

According to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, MarchAprilMayJuneJuly August 2016 was the hottest MarchAprilMayJuneJuly August on record, going back 136 years. It was a staggering 1.28°C1.11°C0.93°C0.79°C0.84° 0.98° C above average across the planet. The previous MarchAprilMayJuneJuly August record, from 2010201420152011 2014, was 0.92°0.87°0.86°0.78°0.74° 0.82° above average; the new record beats it by well over a tenth of a degree.

Welcome to the new normal, and our new world.

 

Last month’s numbers will be available soon and all indications point to yet another record. NASA concurs:

Global climate change has already had observable effects on the environment. Glaciers have shrunk, ice on rivers and lakes is breaking up earlier, plant and animal ranges have shifted and trees are flowering sooner.

Effects that scientists had predicted in the past would result from global climate change are now occurring: loss of sea ice, accelerated sea level rise and longer, more intense heat waves.

Scientists have high confidence that global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come, largely due to greenhouse gases produced by human activities. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which includes more than 1,300 scientists from the United States and other countries, forecasts a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit [1.3-5.5 degrees Celsius] over the next century.

 

The National Institutes of Health wants us to brace ourselves for the health impacts of climate change:

Changes in the greenhouse gas concentrations and other drivers alter the global climate and bring about myriad human health consequences. Environmental consequences of climate change, such as extreme heat waves, rising sea-levels, changes in precipitation resulting in flooding and droughts, intense hurricanes, and degraded air quality, affect directly and indirectly the physical, social, and psychological health of humans. For instance, changes in precipitation are creating changes in the availability and quantity of water, as well as resulting in extreme weather events such as intense hurricanes and flooding. Climate change can be a driver of disease migration, as well as exacerbate health effects resulting from the release of toxic air pollutants in vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, and those with asthma or cardiovascular disease.

 

The California State PTA echoes the NIH’s warning, declaring that “climate change is a children’s issue”:

Today’s children are already being impacted by climate change. Because of their physical, physiological, and cognitive vulnerability, children are more susceptible to adverse health effects from environmental hazards. As impacts of climate change worsen in the coming years, anticipated direct health consequences of climate change will include injury and death from extreme weather events and natural disasters, increases in climate-sensitive infectious diseases, increases in air pollution–related illness, and more heat-related, potentially fatal, illness. By rallying to protect and prepare our children today, we help the nation, the planet and future generations.

 

A 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) looked at the consequences of climate change caused by global warming (heat stress, respiratory disorders, infectious diseases, food insecurity, and mental health disorders) and concluded:

Evidence over the past 20 years indicates that climate change can be associated with adverse health outcomes. Health care professionals have an important role in understanding and communicating the related potential health concerns and the co-benefits from policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

 

 

We’ll take a closer look at the adverse health outcomes associated with climate change tomorrow.

 

(Image: CDC.gov)