The climate is warming faster than we thought: Can the green building industry help?

Author: Nick Hart

Feeling the heat? 

Prediction: “The climatic warming trend since the 1880s…seems to have given way since the 1940s to a cooling trend, which is most marked in higher latitudes.”
Recent Climatic Change and Increased Glacierization in the Eastern Canadian Arctic Nature, June 1972.

Fact: With an average global temperature of 61.97°F, July 2015 was the hottest month since records began in 1880.

Prediction: “An international team of specialists has concluded…that there is no end in sight to the cooling trend of the last 30 years, at least in the Northern Hemisphere.”
The New York Times, January 1978.

Fact: July 2015 saw land temperatures rises by 1.73°F from the 20th century average and ocean temperatures by 1.35°F, the largest warm departure from average on record.


Drought LandAllowing for the fact that scientists have never had the benefit of a crystal ball, it’s still rather interesting—and in sweltering 2015, downright eye-rolling—to look back at some long-range climatic predictions from years gone by.

But let’s cut the climatologists of 40 years ago a little slack. As recently as 2010, no less an authority than the head of space research at the Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in St. Petersburg predicted a new “Little Ice Age” could begin in 2014.

Five years on from that forecast, the heat is most certainly on. And there’s no sign of it getting any cooler. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confidently predicts that 2015 will go down in history as the hottest year ever. Until next year, perhaps?

As we all know, greenhouse gas emissions are the major culprit in global warming. And we in the green building industry can—and should—step up to the plate. According to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, “Simply constructing more energy-efficient buildings—and upgrading the insulation and windows in existing ones [residential and commercial]—could save a whopping 1.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.”

Green building is not just good for the environment; it’s essential for our very survival. With so many green building technologies at our disposal, let’s do our part to confound today’s gloom-and-doom predictions.