The New York Times reported today that 2014 will go down as the hottest year in Earth's documented history. The Times story describes extreme heat in parts of Europe, as well as the Western United States—although the East's unusually cold year made this just the 34th warmest year for the continental U.S. Ocean surfaces everywhere except Antarctica were also "unusually warm."
Last year overtook 2010 for the "global warming" top spot. Worse still, the 10 warmest years on record have all come since 1997.
And it's not that hard to see who's to blame. A study released last year in Environmental Research Letters attributes much of the Earth's global warming to seven major contributors: the U.S., Russia, China, Germany, Brazil, India, and the United Kingdom. Those seven countries, according to the research, accounted for more than 60 percent of all global warming measured between 1750 and 2005.
The U.S., accounting for 20 percent of all global warming, was the study's biggest culprit. China and Russia accounted for about eight percent of all global warming; Brazil and India both claimed seven percent; and the U.K. and Germany rounded out the list with five percent.
These findings were only compounded by a United Nations report released later in 2014, which warned that if politicians and business people continue to underestimate the seriousness of global warming there would be "severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts" over the coming decades.