Nearly all of the world’s population experienced higher temperatures because of climate change this summer, according to an analysis of 202 countries and territories.
The new, peer-reviewed report produced by Climate Central and published Thursday examined temperatures in 180 countries and 22 territories around the world. The U.S.-based research group said in a news release that almost 8 billion people, or 98 percent of the world’s population, were exposed to higher temperatures that were two times more likely to have been caused by heat-trapping carbon pollution in Earth’s atmosphere.
“Virtually no one on Earth escaped the influence of global warming during the past three months,” said Andrew Pershing, Climate Central’s vice president for science.
“In every country we could analyze, including the Southern Hemisphere, where this is the coolest time of year, we saw temperatures that would be difficult — and in some cases nearly impossible — without human-caused climate change,” Pershing said.
Climate Central evaluates how climate change is affecting temperatures and heat events by using data and computer models to create simulations of a world with and without carbon emissions.
Between June and August, which the researchers referred to as this summer, they found that 6.2 billion people had at least one day of average temperature conditions that were made at least five times more likely by climate change.
In the Northern Hemisphere’s summer, nearly half of the global population experienced 30 or more days of temperatures made at least three times more likely by climate change, the report said. And it found that at least 1.5 billion people were exposed to “a very strong influence of climate change” every single day during the Northern Hemisphere summer.
The researchers also said the influence of climate change was “inequitably distributed throughout the world,” having a greater impact on people in the U.N. groupings of least-developed countries and small-island developing states.
Eight months in, this year ranks as the second-warmest year on record, The Washington Post has reported.
August became the planet’s second-hottest month on record, closely following July, as heat waves in North America and southern Europe sparked wildfires that scorched land, caused deaths and prompted mass evacuations.
Scientists have warned that this summer of extreme heat should be a wake-up call for greater urgency about reducing carbon emissions.
“Breaking heat records has become the norm in 2023,” Friederike Otto, a senior lecturer in climate science at Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute, said in a statement Thursday.
“As long as we burn fossil fuels, these events will become more and more intense, providing ever greater barriers to adaptation,” she said.
Dan Stillman contributed to this report.