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What it was like living through the hottest month in Earth’s recorded history

A firefighting helicopter makes water drop as a wildfire burns near the village of Metochi
Reuters/Giorgos Moutafis
Not under control.
  • Akshat Rathi
By Akshat Rathi

Senior reporter

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

July of 2019 is officially the hottest month in recorded history. Humanity’s experiment of pumping greenhouse gases in to the atmosphere is producing results that are frighteningly consistent with our predictions. The climate crisis is here.

One of scientists’ predictions has been for more frequent and intense heatwaves. While the global average temperature has risen by about 1°C, in small pockets people might experience daily temperatures as high as 20°C above average—spikes that can have devastating consequences. From human health, transportation systems, and environmental stability to animal safety, civic peace, and water and energy availability, every element of modern life can be affected by such extreme temperatures.

Just take a look at some of the examples of what happened last month.


  • A zoo fed tigers iced chickens and bears iced watermelon to keep them safe.


  • Electricity consumption shot to new highs in many cities in Guangdong province.


  • Residents were asked to look out (link in French) for vulnerable elderly.


  • The country hit an all-time high of 40.5°C in Geilenkirchen.




The Netherlands




  • The country declared an emergency (paywall) after it couldn’t bring huge swathes of wildfires in Siberia under control.


The UK

The US

All this happened with a global average temperature rise of about 1°C compared to the pre-industrial period. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that, at current trajectory, the world will warm between 3°C and 4°C by 2100.

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