2020 was one of the hottest years in recorded history, according to data released today by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. According to NASA 2020 tied with 2016 for the hottest year in their books, while NOAA (whose records go back 141 years) placed it in the number-two spot  NASA Says 2020 Tied for Hottest Year on Record; Andrea Thompson, Associate Editor Scientific American, Sustainability .
2020 is also an important marker of the power of the long-term warming trend driven by human activities that emit greenhouse gases. “Until we stop doing that, we’re going to see this over and over again,” says Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
Figure 1: Where temperatures have been warmer or cooler than average across the globe in 2020. Global Climate Change Report. Credit: NOAA
Above-average temperatures were also prevalent over large swaths of the globe. Europe and Asia had their hottest years on record, while South America and the Caribbean had their second-hottest, according to NOAA. The world’s oceans also had their third warmest year on record.
2020’s high ranking is a stark example of how far the earth’s climate has deviated from its natural course. “Everything that you see is conditioned on this long-term trend,” Schmidt says. “I work for NASA, but it’s not rocket science.”
The course we are speeding on so blithely will result in more than four degrees Celsius of warming by the year 2100 Wallace-Wells, David. The Uninhabitable Earth (p. 6). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.. As a consequence whole regions of Africa and Australia and the United States, parts of South America north of Patagonia, and Asia south of Siberia could become uninhabitable due to direct heat, desertification, and flooding. At the very minimum it will make them very inhospitable to human life. This is the planetary baseline we are hurtling towards.
Our generation created the global warming crisis. Therefore it is our responsibility to invent and implement solutions to slow this crisis to a survivable level, and then to reverse it.