Earth just finished one of its hottest years on record, which it has done for the past eight years.
NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released independent analyses of the previous year’s climate data on Thursday, finding that 2021 tied with 2018 for the sixth warmest year since modern record-keeping began in 1880. It’s a sign of climate change caused by humans, fueled in part by burning fossil fuels for energy.
In a statement released Thursday, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson stated, “Science leaves no room for doubt: Climate change is the existential threat of our time.” “Eight of the top ten warmest years on our planet happened in the last decade, an undeniable fact that underscores the need for bold action to protect our country’s — and humanity’s — future.”
According to NASA, the average temperature on Earth in 2021 was 1.1 degrees Celsius (1.9 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than it was in the late 1800s when the Industrial Revolution began. Member countries of the United Nations set a goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels in the 2015 Paris Agreement. That goal was reaffirmed late last year at the UN’s annual climate conference, COP26, but meeting it will necessitate drastic reductions in carbon emissions.
According to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, China, the United States, and the European Union emit the most greenhouse gases today, with the United States and Russia responsible for the highest emissions per capita. According to Our World in Data, between the middle of the 18th century and 2017, the United States produced the most greenhouse gas emissions.