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Hennessy’s Index: The climate crisis

The world is getting hotter, and the climate crisis is burning up. Let's look at some of the numbers.

September 1, 2023

2-minute read


The earth’s temperature has risen by an average of 0.08° Celsius/0.14° Fahrenheit per decade since 1880—that’s about 1°C/2°F in total.


The rate of warming since 1981 is more than twice as fast as before: 0.18°C/0.32°F per decade


That’s the sixth warmest year on record (1880-2022), based on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) earth temperature data.

According to the 2022 Global Climate Report from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, every month of 2022 ranked among the 10 warmest for that month, despite the cooling influence from the La Niña climate pattern in the tropical Pacific.


The "coolest" month in 2022 was November, which was 0.75˚C/1.35˚F warmer than average


The 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 2010.

June 2023

The earth just had its hottest June in the global climate 174-year record.


The average land and ocean temperature in June 2023 was 1.05 degrees C/1.89 degrees F above average.


June 2023 was 0.13 of a degree C/0.23 of a degree F warmer than the previous record set in June 2020.


June 2023 also marked the 47th consecutive June and the 532nd consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th century average.


Globally, June 2023 saw the lowest sea ice coverage (extent) for any June on record. This primarily was a result of the record-low sea ice in the Antarctic that occurred for the second consecutive month. Earth’s global sea ice extent (total region with at least 15 percent sea ice cover) in June 2023 was 330,000 square miles less than the previous record low from June 2019.

76,000 sq. km

This year’s wildfire season is the worst on record in Canada: 76,000 sq. km (29,000 sq. miles) burned—generating nearly 160 m tonnes of carbon.


Nine named tropical storms occurred across the globe in June 2023. Four of the storms reached tropical cyclone strength (winds of 119 km h/74 mph or higher) with one of those reaching major tropical cyclone strength (winds of 178 km h/111 mph or higher)—above 1991-2020 averages for June.


The Atlantic basin saw three tropical storms in June 2023, which ties eight other years for the most storms in June.

11 billion

Today, burning fossil fuels and clearing forests add about 11 billion metric tonnes of carbon (equivalent to a little over 40 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide) to the atmosphere each year. Because that is more carbon than natural processes can remove, atmospheric carbon dioxide increases each year.


At this rate of yearly emissions, models project that by the end of this century, global temperature will be at least 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 1901-1960 average, and possibly as much as 10.2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer.


If annual emissions increase more slowly and begin to decline significantly by 2050, models project temperatures would still be at least 2.4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the first half of the 20th century, and possibly up to 5.9 degrees Fahrenheit warmer.

“We are always late to the history in which we live.” —Aleksandar Hemon, The World and All That It Holds.

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