Climate change IS affecting you, along with 85% of the Earth
A new analysis of 100,000 studies of weather events shows that the vast majority of the world’s population already have experienced the negative effects of global warming on their own local environments.
It’s only going to get worse, even with promised cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. It’s going to be catastrophic if the world doesn’t do something drastic — and soon.
The projected photo of Buckingham Palace, an original image from Google Earth via Climate Central, was one of many that ran in a CNN report on the new climate analysis, specifically showing the potential rise in sea level if global temperatures rise by 3 degrees Centigrade. The analysis says roughly 50 major coastal cities will need to implement “unprecedented” adaptation measures to prevent rising seas from swallowing their most populated areas.
The complete analysis is in a new report published in Nature Climate Change. “There is overwhelming evidence that the impacts of climate change are already being observed in human and natural systems,” the report says. “These effects are emerging in a range of different systems and at different scales, covering a broad range of research fields from glaciology to agricultural science and from marine biology to migration and conflict research.”
Four-fifths of the world’s land area have suffered impacts linked to global warming, said another report on the analysis from The Washington Post.
” ‘We have a huge evidence base now that documents how climate change is affecting our societies and our ecosystems,’ said lead author Max Callaghan, a researcher at the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change in Germany,” according to the Post story. “The study provides hard numbers to back up the lived experiences of people from New York City to South Sudan. ‘Climate change,’ Callaghan said, ‘is visible and noticeable almost everywhere in the world.’ ”
More wildfires throughout the globe, burning more homes, farms, and wildlife habitat? Check. More extreme flooding and catastrophic wind damage from the increased ferocity of hurricanes, ramped up by ever-warmer ocean water? Check. More crop failures due to drought and record-breaking heat waves? Check. Permanent melting of ice at both polar ice caps? Check again.
But it’s not just in someone else’s backyard; it’s in our own. We can see it in the form of people losing their homes to rising seas and wildfires, the loss of permafrost, an increase in heat-related deaths, and extinction for scores of animal species. As many as one-third of animal and plant species could be driven to extinction in the next 50 years, all because of climate change driven by fossil fuel emissions, another study warns.
And it’s not just plants and animals. “In the United States, climate disasters have already caused at least 388 deaths and more than $100 billion in damage this year, according to analyses from The Washington Post and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,” says the Post story on the Climate Central analysis.
The CNN report also puts it bluntly: “According to the Climate Central report, roughly 385 million people currently live on land that will eventually be inundated by high tide, even if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced. If warming is limited to 1.5 degrees, sea level rise would affect land inhabited by 510 million people today. If the planet reaches 3 degrees, the high-tide line could encroach above land where more than 800 million people live, the study finds. …
“Unless bold and rapid actions are taken, extreme weather events and climate change-fueled sea level rise will increasingly fill the future of the Earth. Scientists say the planet is running out of time to avoid these worst-case scenarios.”
The new report comes as there is a major push to get countries to commit to more ambitious climate goals ahead of a United Nations summit in Glasgow, Scotland, in November. Research warns that the Earth is on track to warm by more than 2.7 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. So far, some 190 countries are promising to curb greenhouse gases, but the effect of all of those promises would cut emissions by only 12% — not enough to slow the pace enough to curb the temperature increase.
In the United States, all of the Republicans and a few Democrats (we’re talkin’ to you, Joe Manchin of West Virginia) are standing in the way of passage of the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act that would provide incentives for utilities that get an increasing share of their power from solar, wind, and other carbon-free sources and penalize those that don’t move swiftly enough. The Senate-passed infrastructure bill, still awaiting a House vote until passage of the Build Back Better Act is assured, would provide $7.5 billion to build out a national network of electric-vehicle charging stations and several other measures to cut carbon emissions. But none of that is going to be enough; even if it all passes, the measures still wouldn’t meet President BIden’s 2030 goal of cutting greenhouse gases in half. And cutting the climate parts of the major bill, as is being proposed, won’t help save anybody.
The analysis by Climate Central is bad news. It’s news that can be considered catastrophic. And it’s only going to get worse if we keep sticking our heads in the overheated sand and refuse to take the range of necessary steps to slow down the path of global warming.