Heat that hit over 80% of the world’s population in July unlikely without climate change, analysis shows

UniqueThis 87 August 2, 2023

During a record-hot July, more than 80% of the world’s population saw heat that was statistically unlikely if not for human-caused climate change, according to a new analysis. 

The new research, by the nonprofit research group Climate Central, calculated the climate’s shift this July in comparison to a world unaffected by global warming. The analysis includes 4,700 cities and 200 countries. Researchers determined more than four-fifths of the world’s population experienced at least a day of temperatures that were at least three times more likely because of climate change. 

This month, prolonged heat waves struck simultaneously in the southern United States, southern Europe and in lowland China, and a separate research group said the U.S. and European heat waves were “virtually impossible” if not for global warming.   

The new Climate Central analysis is based on methods that were peer-reviewed as part of previous research. The new results have not undergone peer review. Climate Central has a strong reputation for analyzing climate trends.  

The findings suggest that the fingerprint of climate change is sending temperatures soaring in almost every corner of Earth and that it's causing people to feel heat that would have been statistically unlikely decades ago. 

“We really are experiencing climate change just about everywhere,” said Andrew Pershing, the director of climate science for Climate Central. 

About 2 billion people experienced temperatures during each day of July that would have been at least three times less likely in a world that had not warmed due to human emissions, according to the analysis.

European scientists last week said July was almost certainly the hottest month of all time. The world will continue to warm until humans figure out how to curb greenhouse gas emissions, like carbon dioxide and methane. 

“Temperatures are going to continue to rise and a July like this year eventually will start to look like an average year, or a cool year,” Pershing said. “That’s the big challenge of climate change — is that things are moving so quickly in our system right now and until we get CO2 emissions under control they’re going to continue to move very, very quickly.” 

Heat this summer in the U.S.has been implicated in the deaths of hikers and homeless people. It has caused crop losses and sent electricity demand soaring in some communities.  

Emergency room visits for heat-related illnesses soared off the charts throughout the U.S. South last month. 

“There’s been a big bump up from this heat wave,” said Dr. John Balbus, the acting director of the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity for the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, said in a Tuesday news conference, citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data showing a sharp rise in heat visits to hospitals.