This summer was the hottest on record in the northern hemisphere, a US federal agency has said – just a day after Donald Trump categorically denied climate change during a visit to fire-striken California and told officials there: “It’ll start getting cooler. You just watch.”
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published its monthly global climate report on Monday, which found that not only was August 2020 the second-warmest August on record but that north of the equator it had also been the hottest summer since records began.
When taking into account the rest of the world, it was the third-hottest, three-month season ever, NOAA found.
From June until August 2020, temperatures soared, surpassing both 2019 and 2016, which were previously tied for hottest.
Globally, the 10 hottest Augusts have all happened since 1998. The five warmest have been since 2015.
The federal agency also found that, based on statistical analysis, 2020 is highly likely eventually to rank among the five warmest years on record.
As NOAA’s official Twitter account was tweeting out global maps blanketed in red dots, labelled #StateOfClimate, on Monday, President Trump was arriving in Sacramento for a briefing on California’s historic wildfire season.
Although fires are part of the ecosystem in western regions, it is the climate crisis that is making them more frequent and more intense as conditions become hotter and drier.
Mr Trump said that poor forest management and “exploding trees” were the cause of the wildfires, while entirely ignoring climate change.
“When trees fall down after a short period of time, about 18 months, they become very dry,” the president said. “They become really like a matchstick … you know, there’s no more water pouring through and they become very, very — they just explode. They can explode.”
During the meeting, the president went on to tell officials that he believes scientists have not yet proven there is a climate crisis.
“We want to work with you to really recognise the changing climate,” California Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot told Mr Trump.
“It’ll start getting cooler. You just watch,” the president shot back, grinning at the official.
In a rare public rebuke of a sitting president, Mr Crowfoot replied: “I wish science agreed with you”.
Mr Trump countered: “Well, I don’t think science knows actually.”
NASA states that 97 per cent or more of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities.