Weather officials say the past 12 months represent the hottest period on record in the United States.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Monday said that every month starting from June 2011 and ending in June of this year ranked among the warmest since record-taking started in 1895. And this does not take into account the blistering heat of this past week, with high temperatures breaking or tying records in many communities across the country.
NOAA also says the warmest March ever recorded in the United States and the extreme heat in June helped make the first half of this year the warmest recorded for any January-June period.
Scientists and activists have been warning that atmospheric pollution would lead to extreme weather conditions. They now say that "this is what global warning looks like."
Five years ago, former U.S. vice president Al Gore won a Nobel Prize and an Oscar for his book, movie and other efforts to reduce pollution, which is blamed by many scientists for global warming. In one of many lectures he gave at the time, he warned of the danger of the accelerated melting of glaciers.
"In the Himalayas, there's a particular problem because 40 percent of all the people in the world get their drinking water from rivers and spring systems that are fed more than half by the melted water coming off the glaciers. And within this next half century, those 40 percent of the people on earth are going to face very serious shortage because of this melting," he said.
U.S. television weather forecaster John Coleman has been one of many opponents of the science behind Gore's lectures. He called global warming "a myth" and claimed that human activity has almost no influence on the atmosphere. "People are going hysterical about it. It's amazing to me how upset so many people are and how many billions of dollars, apparently, our governments are going to spend to combat something that isn't real," he said.
Such discussions still go on. The global climate conference in Copenhagen (Denmark) in 2009 failed to produce a binding international agreement on reducing carbon emissions that are believed to contribute to the problem. The previous agreement, known as the Kyoto Protocol, expires at the end of this year. But many countries, including the biggest polluters like Australia and China, are taking steps to reduce so-called greenhouse gas emissions at home.
NOAA is seeking to increase its satellite division to enhance its program to monitor weather and climate patterns from polar orbit.