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Expand chart
Reproduced from NOAA; Chart: Connor Rothschild/Axios

July was the hottest month on record worldwide, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Why it matters: When it comes to establishing new climate milestones, the Earth is on a roll, thanks in large part to the burning of fossil fuels for energy, as well as deforestation.

  • The monthly temperature record news dropped in the same week as the dire climate report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  • That report makes clear that global warming can no longer be viewed as a problem simply for future generations — its effects are already here.
  • The report was the climate science equivalent of the horror movie trope: "The phone call is coming from inside the house."

Details: The Northern Hemisphere land-surface temperature was the highest ever recorded for July, at an unprecedented 2.77°F (1.54°C) above average, NOAA found.

  • The month was the hottest month on record for Asia and second-hottest for Europe.

During July:

  • California saw a spate of wildfires worsen, as did Oregon, Montana and other Western states. One of the fires that began in July, known as the Dixie Fire, is now California's second-largest blaze on record.
  • Brutal heat waves hit Europe and Asia, and vast stretches of Siberia went up in flames, choking population centers with smoke and haze.
  • Turkey set record highs, which helped set the stage for wildfires that broke out in August. Parts of Japan broke temperature records, and Northern Ireland broke its all-time heat record two days in a row.

Yes, but: Climate scientists don't pay very close attention to individual calendar months, but rather to long-term, 30-year-plus trends. But in both cases, the trend lines are clear: The world is getting warmer, quickly, as greenhouse gas concentrations in the air climb.

  • It is nearly certain that 2021 will rank among the top 10 warmest years on record, most likely at No. 6 or 7 on NOAA's list. That is despite the presence of a La Niña event in the tropical Pacific Ocean that helped keep global average temperatures lower for a time.

What they're saying: “This new record adds to the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe,” said NOAA administrator Rick Spinrad.

Go deeper

Poll: 52% of Americans say they've experienced effects of global warming

Expand chart
Data: "Climate Change in the American Mind;" Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

According to new results from a national poll from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, a record high of seven-in-10 Americans said they are at least "somewhat worried" about global warming. This beats out the findings from the same question dating back to 2008.

Why it matters: Americans are increasingly perceiving climate change as a current danger affecting them personally, a development that could shift attitudes toward federal policy.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Nov 19, 2021 - Energy & Environment

What moves the climate communications needle

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new paper finds that words used in news stories to label climate change are less consequential than whether stories emphasize harm or solutions.

Driving the news: Researchers tested engagement with "climate crisis" and "climate emergency" — phrasing that has gained media traction — and "climate change."

2 hours ago - Health

Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific COVID vaccine

A health worker in Palestine preparing a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine on Jan. 24. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech announced Tuesday that they have started clinical trials for a reformulated vaccine to protect against the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Why it matters: The rise of the Omicron variant has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines.