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The figures show that land and sea temperatures in April across the world were 1.11°C above the average temperature for April recorded in the base period between 1951 and 1980. (The US national weather service uses a three-decade period to define ‘normal’ or average temperature, and the most recent 30-year period analysed was 1951-1980.) The margin above the 1951-80 average was itself a record, and suggests 2016 will post a new mark for the hottest-ever year.
Andy Pitman of the climate unit at the University of New South Wales told the Guardian newspaper: ‘The scale at which we’re breaking records is clearly all heading in the wrong direction. Climate scientists have been warning about this since at least the 1980s, and it’s been bloody obvious since the 2000s. So where’s the surprise?’
In February, another climate scientist, Professor Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, talked of the world being in ‘a climate emergency’. He explained that the emergency was not because recent figures were record-breaking, but because they confirmed that global warming was happening more or less as expected, and the time to get temperature rises under control had ‘almost run out’.