On the same day President Joe Biden introduced measures to safeguard workers from the sweltering heat, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported that July is likely on track to be the hottest month ever documented.
Following a record-shattering June, July’s first three weeks showcased a concerning heat trend. As per the WMO, the chances are high that this month will surpass previous records.
“Consistent record-breaking temperatures signify the alarming trend of surging global temperatures,” remarked Carlo Buontempo, Director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service. He emphasized that anthropogenic emissions are the primary culprits behind this temperature escalation.
Copernicus, an initiative under the European Union’s space program, conducts Earth monitoring through satellites. The claim of this potential record-breaking month is grounded in climate reanalysis data. This method integrates terrestrial observations, satellite readings, and climate modeling to estimate historical global temperatures. Such a holistic approach addresses any gaps in data and is a trusted tool for scientists gauging climate change effects.
The latest findings indicate that average global surface temperatures have slightly surpassed 62.5°F until Sunday, overtaking the prior record of 61.9°F set in July 2019.
Concurrently, the Biden administration instructed the Department of Labor to prioritize workplace heat-related incidents. On Thursday, a heat hazard alert was rolled out as a reminder to employers about their responsibilities.
Acting Secretary of Labor, Julie Su, stated to NBC News, “We aim to educate both workers about heat-related risks and employers about their preventive duties.” Su is optimistic that this initiative will foster better heat protocols in workplaces and embolden workers to report any infringements.
More stringent actions against heat-safety violations in workplaces, especially in sectors like construction and agriculture, are on the cards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), affiliated with the Labor Department, initiated the development of contemporary heat standards in 2022.
Julie Su reiterated the urgency of establishing a comprehensive standard addressing heat, especially considering the challenges posed by climate change. However, finalizing and instituting these regulations could be a lengthy process, according to experts. This has led Congressional Democrats to advocate for provisional rules amidst a relentless southern heat wave.
Emphasizing the encompassing threat of heat, Su stated, “The menace isn’t confined to outdoor settings. Internal environments like warehouses, the interiors of overheated buildings cleaned by janitors, or even airplane cabins can surpass 100°F under the current temperature trends.”
July witnessed both the Southwest U.S. and Southern Europe grappling with unprecedented heat waves. Scientists specializing in assessing extreme weather events’ probabilities deduced that such occurrences would have been “nigh impossible” without climate change. Likewise, China’s third heatwave was an anomaly, only explainable by global warming.
The US has confronted a series of extreme weather events this summer – ranging from the atmospheric aftermath of massive Canadian wildfires to unprecedented rainfall in the Northeast and searing temperatures along Florida’s shores.
In a news release, WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas lamented, “The July events that impacted countless lives symbolize the grim reality of climate change and serve as a prelude to our impending future.”