Studies increasingly show that changing weather patterns, extreme heat, and unpredictable storms are likely to pop up pretty much everywhere on the globe. According to recent research, it turns out that 98 percent of the world’s population has been exposed to higher-than-normal temperatures made twice more likely by carbon dioxide pollution.
The new findings come from a report from US-based climate research group Climate Central and follow reports that this summer has been the hottest three-month period recorded, and July alone was the hottest month on record.
The latest report utilizes Climate Central’s Climate Shift Index (CSI), which reveals how much climate change influences the temperature on any given day on the globe—so a level of 5 would mean this event was five times more likely to occur because of climate change. According to their findings, nearly half of the world’s population experienced at least 30 days between June and August with a CSI of at least 3. This means that the 30 or more days of extreme weather were made three times more likely due to climate change.
[Related: July 2023 was likely the hottest month in 120,000 years.]
At least 1.5 billion people (or around one in every five people) saw at least this level of climate-change induced heat every single day during this time period.
"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," Andrew Pershing, Climate Central's vice president for science, told Reuters.
Of course, not all locations saw the same amount of impact—79 countries in particular experienced at least half of their summer days at CSI level 3 or higher. Over half of these were UN-designated least developed (based on income thresholds, health and education indices, as well as economic and environmental vulnerabilities) countries and small island developing states. These countries typically contribute very little to climate change itself, in this case, culminating around 7 percent of total GHG emissions, according to the report. They also are at higher risk of climate-related disasters and still struggle to access funding to take mitigating measures.
“In every place, if you start to push it beyond the temperatures that people experience on a regular basis, that’s dangerous heat because you’re not prepared for it physiologically. You’re not prepared for it in terms of your infrastructure,” Pershing told Scientific American.
[Related: US climate efforts look promising, but there’s more to do.]
Meanwhile, greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise year after year, and major fossil fuel companies and emitters have made minimal progress or backtracked on climate goals. As fossil fuel use continues to rise, so do their climate-warming emissions.
“Breaking heat records has become the norm in 2023,” Friederike Otto, a senior lecturer in climate science at Imperial College London, said in a statement. “Global warming continues because we have not stopped burning fossil fuels. It is that simple.”