Skip to content Skip to footer

July 3 Was the Hottest Day on Record. Then July 4 Came Along.

Some experts believe that July 4 could have been the hottest day on Earth in 125,000 years.

A passenger plane takes off during sunset at the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) in San Francisco as a heat wave is expected to bake California on June 30, 2023.

Monday, July 3, was the hottest day in recorded history, beating out all-time highs since at least 1979 and beating the previous record set in 2016, data shows. But it only held that record for a day as it was swiftly beaten by July 4, which eclipsed Monday’s record in a reminder of how swiftly the global climate is warming — and how this record will only continue to be topped.

According to data from the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Prediction, the earth hit a global average temperature of 62.62 degrees Fahrenheit, or 17.01 degrees Celsius, on Monday. Then, on Tuesday, it grew to 62.92 degrees Fahrenheit, or 17.18 degrees Celsius.

This is the hottest global average since scientists began recording such data in 1979. Per The Washington Post, some experts say that this Fourth of July may have been the hottest day on Earth in 125,000 years, or before the last ice age — though, this time, there is no ice age in sight, only catastrophic, human-caused climate change.

This will not be the last time this record is broken, as global temperatures continue to rise due to the climate crisis. In fact, this may not even be the last time the record is broken this summer; according to climate scientist Robert Rohde, lead scientist of nonprofit Berkeley Earth, the next six weeks could see even hotter global temperatures, with the “the combination of El Niño on top of global warming,” as Rohde wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

The global temperature was bumped up by a heat wave blistering across the U.S., with an estimated 57 million people exposed to dangerous heat on Tuesday, according to The Washington Post’s extreme heat tracker.

“It’s not a record to celebrate and it won’t be a record for long, with northern hemisphere summer still mostly ahead and El Niño developing,” Friederike Otto, climate science lecturer at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment in the U.K., told CNN.

Scorching heat has already killed hundreds of people in North America so far this year, with at least 14 heat-related deaths across Louisiana and Texas as of last week, and at least 112 deaths in Mexico, according to Mexican officials. In June, a heat wave in India killed at least 96 people, and record heat is gripping swaths of China, northern Africa and the Antarctic.

Meanwhile, ocean temperatures are also reaching record highs: According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, roughly 40 percent of the world’s oceans are experiencing marine heat waves, the highest proportion since scientists began recording such temperatures in 1991. This is ushering in hotter temperatures on land and endangering entire ocean ecosystems and marine wildlife.

The ocean’s temperatures are an especially important indicator of the climate crisis, with ocean heat being a more steady measure of warming than atmospheric temperatures. Ocean heat has hit record highs for the past six years in a row, with each successive year setting a new record.

These record temperatures come as fossil fuel companies are doubling down on oil and gas exploration and fossil-fuel-funded politicians are encouraging the industry’s continued growth — despite the clear mandate from climate scientists and advocates to stop new fossil fuel projects and draw down the use of fossil fuels for good. Fossil fuels still make up the vast majority of energy usage around the world, even as some governments increase their use of renewable energies.

A critical message, before you scroll away

You may not know that Truthout’s journalism is funded overwhelmingly by individual supporters. Readers just like you ensure that unique stories like the one above make it to print – all from an uncompromised, independent perspective.

At this very moment, we’re conducting a fundraiser with a goal to raise $13,000. So, if you’ve found value in what you read today, please consider a tax-deductible donation in any size to ensure this work continues. We thank you kindly for your support.