AUG 12, 2017 6:01 PM PDT

And in case you needed more convincing: yes, humans are causing climate change

If there was any doubt that humans are driving climate change, this new study published in Geophysical Research Letters has just washed that suspicion out to shore with an extensive analysis of statistics. Looking at historical temperature data in the scope of modern climate model simulations, the study determined that the probability of experiencing record-breaking global temperatures from 2014 to 2016 as we have is 0.03% without the influence of humans. In fact, three record-breaking years in a row since 2000 only has a 0.7% chance of happening were humans to have had no factor at all in climate change. But when we add humans into the picture, that likelihood raises to 50%.

That’s roughly a 1-in-a-million chance for 2016 data without human influence and an almost 1-in-3 chance taking human warming into account. It’s certainly not looking good for the culprits.

We broke global temperature records in first in 2014, then in 2015, and then again in 2016. What will happen in 2017? NOAA reported that 2016 brought an average global temperature across land and ocean surface areas that was 0.94 degrees Celsius (1.69 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 20th century average of 13.9 degrees Celsius (57.0 degrees Fahrenheit). According to NASA the average surface temperature of the planet has risen approximately 1.1 degrees Celsius (2.0 degrees Fahrenheit) since the end of the 19th century. And considering 16 of the 17 warmest years on record have happened since 2001, the trend isn’t good.

"With climate change, this is the kind of thing we would expect to see. And without climate change, we really would not expect to see it," said Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pennsylvania, and lead author of the new study.

A depiction showing how literally climate change is in our hands. Photo: The Nation

What makes this study different from others is that the researchers analyzed data under the notion that each year is not independent of previous and future years. This is because they wanted to account for natural and human events that make temperature changes clump. Climate patterns like El Niño, the solar cycle and volcanic eruptions all can influence big patterns from year to year and it’s crucial to see these systems as connected in order to get the best understanding of the data.

Mann explains that within this big system view, rising global temperatures link to more frequent and intense extreme weather events like heat waves, floods, and droughts. He has no doubt that these changes are being driven by human activity and that they are what in turn will most affect us and other living things.

Sources: Science Daily, Geophysical Research Letters

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
DEC 03, 2019
Earth & The Environment
DEC 03, 2019
Small forests provide key ecosystem services
Due to human expansion in agriculture and livestock, logging, gas and oil exploration, and infrastructure expansion, forests today are more fragmented than...
DEC 05, 2019
Earth & The Environment
DEC 05, 2019
Scientists Get a Closer Look at "The Plastisphere"
Plastic litter is a global problem, and some of the tiniest culprits are not visible to the naked eye. These microplastics have infiltrated the world's...
JAN 12, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 12, 2020
Diego the Giant Tortoise Returning to Wild After Saving His Species
One would witness a plethora of exotic animals upon visiting the renowned Galápagos Islands, one of which might be the Galápagos giant tortoi...
JAN 21, 2020
Earth & The Environment
JAN 21, 2020
The sinking Everglades
New research from the American Society of Agronomy reports that the Everglades are sinking. According to scientists who have been studying the unique lands...
JAN 26, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 26, 2020
Iguanas Are Falling From Trees in Florida
The state of Florida has endured an exceptionally chilly Winter season this time around, and some of the state’s wild critters are taking notice. Whi...
FEB 12, 2020
Earth & The Environment
FEB 12, 2020
Expect more landslides in High Mountain Asia
A new study from NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center highlights the first quantitative study of the link between precipitation and landslides in the High Moun...
Loading Comments...