Friday marks the 52nd anniversary of the first Earth Day, and average temperatures in the United States have risen dramatically over the past five decades.
Earth Day is celebrated on April 22 and is the largest civic celebration in the world. More than one billion people in more than 190 countries participate in environmental activities each year to this date.
The first Earth Day was created in 1970 to raise awareness of environmental issues affecting the planet. In recent years, the focus has been on climate change as temperatures continue to rise across the world.
According to data compiled by the independent research group Climate Central, average temperatures in the United States are 2.4 degrees warmer than they were 52 years ago for the first Earth Day.
Indeed, 98% of the 246 cities analyzed reported an increase in their annual temperatures since 1970. Of these, almost two-thirds warmed by more than 2 degrees and 27% warmed by more than 3 degrees.
Most of the fastest warming cities are in the southwestern United States, but a few places outside of that region also rank among the top 10 cities with the highest temperature increases.
Reno, Nevada, is by far the fastest warming city in the nation since 1970. Its average annual temperature has risen 7.6 degrees over the past five decades.
Las Vegas ranks second among cities with the highest temperature increases since the first Earth Day, with its average annual temperature rising from around 66 degrees in 1970 to nearly 72 degrees by 2020.
Interestingly, one of the snowiest cities in America ranks among the top 10 places with the fastest rate of warming. Erie, Pa., the second snowiest city in the nation, with an average of 104.3 inches of snow each year, has seen its average annual temperature rise 4.3 degrees since 1970.
Last year marked the 25th consecutive warmer-than-average year for the United States, ranking fourth hottest on record. In fact, each of the lower 48 states recorded above average temperatures last year.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the six hottest years on record for the contiguous United States have all occurred since 2012, while nine of the 10 hottest years have all occurred since 1998. The Dust Bowl Year 1934 is the only year among the 10 warmest that occurred before 1998.
Climate change has caused temperatures to rise across the country at an average rate of 0.16 degrees per decade since official records began in 1895.
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