It’s hot, and temperatures are still rising. But we’re not prepared for climate change.
A new report in the New York Times shows just how widespread and intense the impact of global warming is right now, and how unprepared people are for the future.
In the U.S., May through July ranked as the hottest ever, according to NOAA, almost five percent above average. Sea levels continue their upward trajectory rising about three inches, higher than levels in 1993.
In California, the largest wildfires in state history are burning right now.
Harvests of staples like wheat and corn are drying up all over the world.
Up to 100 heat-related deaths in Japan this summer show just how deadly extreme heat can be.
In the U.S., a study last month in the journal PLOS Medicine projected a fivefold rise in heat deaths by 2080.
And the poorer a country is, the worse the heat impacts are. In the Philippines, for example, researchers forecast 12 times more deaths.
“It’s not a wake-up call anymore,” Cynthia Rosenzweig, who runs the climate impacts group at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said of global warming and its human toll. “It’s now absolutely happening to millions of people around the world.”
Yes, we’ve got the Paris climate agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but the world’s biggest polluters are not meeting their reduction targets and what’s worse, the United States has pulled out of the accord — the only country in the world to do so.
Still, scientists tell us that with effort, technology and human persistence, warming can be slowed enough to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. Some national and local governments are taking action and showing how it’s done.
“In an effort to avert heat-related deaths, officials are promising to plant more trees in Melbourne, Australia, and covering roofs with reflective white paint in Ahmedabad, India. Agronomists are trying to develop seeds that have a better shot at surviving heat and drought. Switzerland hopes to prevent railway tracks from buckling under extreme heat by painting the rails white,” reports the New York Times.
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