The average global temperature in 2021 was the sixth highest since global records began in 1880, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information’s annual global climate report.

Last year was also one of the top 10 hottest years for each individual continent, with North America experiencing its seventh warmest year on record. This was North America’s 25th consecutive year with temperatures above average.

Multiple cities and countries saw record-setting temperatures in 2021. Notably, Canada reached a national high of 121.3 F, Sicily, Italy, reached 119.8 F, setting a record maximum temperature for all of Europe, and Beijing, China, saw a record-high temperature for the month of February of 78.1 F.

The NCEI’s report also pointed out that many parts of the world were severely affected by droughts in 2021. “Moderate to exceptional drought” entrenched over 89% of the western United States. Brazil was especially affected, experiencing some of the worst drought conditions in centuries for the nation that resulted in “water scarcity, increased fire activity, and crop losses.”

Perhaps most notable in the global climate report is 2021’s ocean heat content, which was the highest it has ever been on record. “The ocean heating is irrefutable and a key measure of the Earth’s energy imbalance: the excess greenhouse gases in the air trap more heat inside the climate system and drives global warming,” according to the NCEI report.

Good Faith Media reached out to several faith leaders for their response to this report. Here is what they said:

Molly T. Marshall headshot“The climate crisis is arguably the most urgent issue facing churches in our time and, regrettably, has not been central to most churches’ agenda,” said Molly T. Marshall, president of United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. “Genesis teaches us that God has entrusted the care of creation to humanity, and we have yet to live fully into our vocation. We have treated creation as if it was expendable, thinking we always have more land, more resources and more time to conscript it for our selfish purposes.  Time is running out, and we must repent of our rapacious approach to this good gift of God.”

Martin Hodson headshotMartin Hodson, operations director for the John Ray Initiative, said, “Coming so soon after COP26, the United Nations climate change meeting in Glasgow (November 2021), this report is a timely reminder of where we stand with the climate. The headline figure is that 2021 was the sixth warmest on record globally, but that is just one statistic among many that show we are in major trouble. We all need to redouble our efforts to limit further warming, and faith groups have a really important role in this. What is your church going to do about climate change in 2022?”

Grace Ji-Sun Kim headshot“The Global Climate Report 2021 provided a stark warning for humanity to change our political, social, ethical and theological ways or face further climate crisis,” said Grace Ji-Sun Kim, a professor of theology at Earlham School of Religion. “The 2021 average global temperature was the sixth highest since global records began in 1880. If we do not change our ways, we are headed towards continued catastrophe where people around the globe will suffer, as well as the animals, birds, fish, plants and all of God’s creation.”

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