Global Warming
Since the Industrial Revolution, the global annual temperature has increased in total by a little more than 1 degree Celsius, or about 2 degrees Fahrenheit. Håkan Jansson/Alamy

The Earth's average surface temperature was at its hottest in 2023, according to a recent NASA report.

NASA retrieves its global temperature data by using tens of thousands of meteorological stations. The independent agency also studies the rate of global warming by obtaining sea surface temperature data acquired by ship- and buoy-based instruments.

Last year, global temperatures increased to roughly 1.2 degrees Celsius – almost reaching the internationally agreed-upon global warming limit that currently stands at 1.5 degrees Celsius.

If the global temperature was to surpass 1.5 degrees Celsius, the world would see worsening weather extremes and irreversible effects of climate change.

In a statement, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced that the US was making huge steps towards supporting communities vulnerable to climate change.

Nelson said: "From extreme heat to wildfires, to rising sea levels, we can see our Earth is changing. There's still more work to be done, but President Biden and communities across America are taking more action than ever to reduce climate risks and help communities become more resilient."

"NASA will continue to use our vantage point of space to bring critical climate data back down to Earth that is understandable and accessible for all people," the NASA Administrator continued.

To help with reducing global warming, the US has made zero-carbon and low-carbon energy options more affordable. The White House has also moved to prioritise energy efficiency and clean energy technologies.

Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy said that Biden's "recent legislation has delivered the US government's largest-ever climate investment, including billions to strengthen America's resilience to the increasing impacts of the climate crisis".

For every month from June to December last year, data showed that temperatures marked a global record as hundreds of millions of people across the globe experienced extreme heat.

Mali, located in West Africa, was named the hottest country in the world. The African nation witnesses a yearly average temperature of 28.83 degrees Celsius which leads to an extreme drought that affects roughly 400,000 people each year.

Canada experienced its most extreme wildfire season ever recorded in 2023. The devastating effects of the fires increased by 80 per cent after more than 18 million hectares of the nation's land was burned.

In 2022, the Canadian wildfires destroyed a record-breaking 10 million hectares.

Last year not only saw extreme heatwaves and drought but there was also catastrophic flooding that devastated parts of North America, Africa and Europe.

In September 2023, Storm Daniel struck Libya with severe winds and sudden heavy rainfall. The storm caused two dams to burst and led to fatal flooding that killed more than 4,300 people. Around 8,000 families are still missing.

Scientists at World Weather Attribution, pointed the finger at human-induced climate change for causing the tsunami-like flooding, noting that the harmful human activity made the extreme weather event more intense.

"The exceptional warming that we're experiencing is not something we've seen before in human history," noted Gavin Schmidt, the Director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).

Like the World Weather Attribution experts, Schmidt also blamed greenhouse emissions for worsening the effects of climate change on vulnerable communities.

Global warming is "driven primarily by our fossil fuel emissions, and we're seeing the impacts in heat waves, intense rainfall, and coastal flooding", he said.

Warning of more record weather events in 2024, the Director of GISS went on to explain: "Even with occasional cooling factors like volcanoes or aerosols, we will continue to break records as long as greenhouse gas emissions keep going up."

Not only will the new year see more environmental catastrophes, but "we just set a new record for greenhouse gas emissions again this past year", said Schmidt.