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  • Writer's pictureDahlia Foundation

Scorching October puts 2023 on track to be hottest year in 125,000 years

European scientists say 2023 is on track to be the hottest year on record after temperatures soared across the planet in October.

The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), the EU’s climate monitor, said on Wednesday that October was 0.4 degrees Celsius (0.7 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter than the previous record for the month, set in 2019.

“When we combine our data with the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], then we can say that this is the warmest year for the last 125,000 years,” C3S’s Deputy Director Samantha Burgess said. Copernicus’s dataset goes back to 1940.

As climate change, driven by greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, heats up the planet, previous records for extreme heat have been broken with dizzying frequency.

No corner of the planet has been spared: A study published in September, which also beat previous records, found that 2022 brought the most intense heatwave on record to Antarctica, the world’s coldest region.

In August and September during the southern hemisphere’s winter and spring, South American countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay struggled to cope with boiling temperatures of more than 40C (104F), in a heatwave that scientists said was made 100 times more likely by climate change.

“The amount that we’re smashing records by is shocking,” Burgess said.

Extreme heat can have deadly impacts, sapping the body of energy and causing dehydration in the short term and increasing the risk of health problems such as cardiovascular and respiratory disease.

People from poorer segments of society, especially those who engage in manual labour or work outside, are especially at risk.

“Heat kills, particularly in spring before people are acclimatised to it. Temperatures above 40C [104F] in early spring are incredibly extreme,” Julie Arrighi, director at the nonprofit Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, said at the time of the heatwave in South America.

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