July was the hottest summer in recorded history

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

kid and fire hydrant
It’s definitely going to be harder to stay cool in the coming summers.

Is it just me or was this summer one of the hottest yet? The second I stepped out of my air-conditioned house and into the glaring sunlight, I felt like I was melting! Well, according to Stanford University environmental scientists, I wasn’t the only one that felt this way. Last July was the single hottest month since humans began tracking weather, and unfortunately, the worst is yet to come. The researchers predict that the United States is four times more likely to experience intense heat in the coming years!

Ugh, as if it wasn’t hot enough already! What’s the cause behind this smoldering weather anyway? According to the study, it’s the rising levels of greenhouse gases from engines and machines, which can trap heat on the surface of the Earth. However, the gases weren’t always increasing. In a time known as the pre-industrial era, physical labor from humans and animals provided the energy to build materials for the community. Then in the 1700s, we made the switch from animal labor to machine power in a historic turning point known as the Industrial Revolution. Machines powered by engines built materials faster than mere manual labor ever could. However, engines required fuel to function, so people burned petroleum and coal to get them pumping. This had an unintended effect: more carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, and other greenhouse gases were spewed into the atmosphere, thus trapping heat on our planet.

Well, that was about 300 years ago. In the modern age, millions – if not billions – of engines choke the air with never-before-seen amounts of greenhouse gases. “It’s clear that our greenhouse gas emissions have increased the likelihood of some kinds of extremes, and it’s clear that we’re not optimally adapted to that new climate,” said Noah Diffenbaugh, an associate professor of environmental Earth system science.

Stanford researchers aren’t the only ones predicting searing summers in the coming years. According to data from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, we should expect hotter and hotter summers every year until 2040, since “monthly heat extremes will increase several fold.”

Even though humans caused this extreme weather, other innocent organisms suffer as well. Thirsty, overheated plants have shriveled up under the searing sun rays, and countless fires erupted on the east and west coasts. I feel even worse for those furry animals sweltering in the heat and losing homes to environmental disasters!

Featured image courtesy of Mark Rain on Flickr. Image of fire hydrant kid courtesy of Jorge Quinteros on Flickr.