State of the Climate: Hottest Decade on Record

by Jay Kimball on 29 July 2010

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) just released their annual State of the Climate report.

A comprehensive review of key climate indicators confirms the world is warming and the past decade was the warmest on record. More than 300 scientists from 48 countries analyzed data on 37 climate indicators, including sea ice, glaciers and air temperatures. A more detailed review of 10 of these indicators, selected because they are clearly and directly related to surface temperatures, all tell the same story: global warming is undeniable.

The findings do not include data from 2010, which is on pace to exceed the highest annual average global temperature ever recorded, NOAA said. This summer’s weather has been defined by extreme heat events in the eastern United States, Europe, Russia, China, Japan and the Middle East.

According to the report, each decade since the 1980s has been progressively warmer than the last, with an average warming of about one-fifth of a degree Fahrenheit per decade.

Global Temperature Change Decades

“The temperature increase of one degree Fahrenheit over the past 50 years may seem small, but it has already altered our planet,” said Deke Arndt, co-editor of the report and chief of the Climate Monitoring Branch of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. “Glaciers and sea ice are melting, heavy rainfall is intensifying and heat waves are more common.”

The pace of climate change is quickening. If this was your temperature, you would go to a doctor. If this was your car radiator temperature, you would pull over.

The challenge here is that these changes are not happening in minutes or hours, so they lack the emergency quality that galvanizes us into action. And yet, the impact to our water, food production, health, property, and quality of life will be enormous.

In Clayton Christensen’s book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, he talks about disruptive technology that changes ‘business as usual’. Some businesses fall, and some rise, depending how they respond to the disruption.

Think of this as the ultimate disruptor. How is your organization thinking about climate change? What metrics do you use to understand and track the trends? How will you minimize the impact and risk? What opportunities are their for innovation?

For more on impact, read Water Scarcity in the US, Sustainable Energy Security: Strategic Risks and Opportunities for Business, and Climate Change May Reduce Protein in Crops.

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