WHY WE NEED TO ACT FAST

“We are the last generation that can prevent irreparable damage to our planet,” 
UN General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés (Ecuador)

The UN’s October 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report gave little more than a decade to dramatically reduce our CO2 emissions and launch a massive effort to remove CO2 from the atmosphere to avoid an unstoppable chain of climate breakdown catastrophes. This page shows some of the creatures, people, and places already suffering from climate crisis impacts along with worrying trends that show why we must act fast.

Aerial picture showing smoke from a fire billowing from the Amazon rainforest in northern Brazil, on Aug. 23. CARL DE SOUZA / AFP / Getty Images

Amazon Rainforest Could be Two Years from Irreversible ‘Tipping Point’

EcoWatch—OCTOBER 24,  2019 If current deforestation rates in the Amazon rainforest continue, the forest could be two years away from the “tipping point” after which it will no longer be able to sustain itself by making its own rain.

If we continue our current rate of greenhouse gas emissions, American Goldfinches are projected to disappear from 23 states including New Jersey, Illinois, Texas, Arizona and the Dakotas. Linda Krueger / 500px / Getty Images

Climate Change Threatens Two-Thirds of North American Bird Species With Extinction

EcoWatch—OCTOBER 11,  2019 A report released on October 10th by the Audubon Society found two-thirds of North America’s birds are threatened with extinction from climate change. The research uses 140 million observations of 604 North American bird species and climate models to gauge how birds may respond to climate change and estimate their future ranges. READ MORE

 

By NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio, Key and Title by Eric Fisk – https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/details.cgi?aid=4626, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=76248349

July was the hottest month ever

World Economic Forum—AUGUST 15,  2019 So far this year, every month has ranked among the four warmest for the month in question and we’ve lived through the hottest ever June. What’s more, July 2019 was probably the most scorching month ever recorded – a full 1.2 degrees Celsius warmer than the average for the pre-industrial era. Even as awareness increases and the world heats up, more joint action is needed. READ MORE

 

Five ways climate change already impacts human health in Michigan

MichiganRadio.org—AUGUST 14,  2019 Five serious ways that climate change is impacting Michiganders’ health:
  • Heat-related illness and mortality
  • Exacerbation of respiratory diseases 
  • An uptick in carbon monoxide poisoning and other injuries related to extreme weather
  • Waterborne diseases from extreme flooding
  • Vector-borne diseases like Lyme disease and West Nile virus READ MORE & LISTEN
 

A collapsed block of permafrost in Drew Point, Alaska (Us Geological Survey)

That Summer When Climate Change Baked Alaska

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)—AUGUST 9,  2019 An Anchorage-based wildlife biologist describes what life is like in our northernmost state—one that’s been dramatically altered by rising temperatures. McKee shares how a summer that will likely be Alaska’s hottest on record is fueling wildfires, melting sea ice, increasing tree-killing beetle and parasite infestations, and intensifying food shortages in rural indigenous communities. READ MORE
 

Patient receiving dialysis. Anna Frodesiak https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Patient_receiving_dialysis_03.jpg

Heat Waves Brought by Climate Change Could Prove Deadly for Kidney Patients

U.S. News & World ReportAUGUST 9,  2019 New research uncovers yet another population that will be vulnerable to the heat waves that climate change is delivering with increasing frequency: people with kidney disease. Patients with other health conditions—such as congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes—were also at increased risk on the hottest days, the researchers found. READ MORE

 

Great tit (Parus major) (By Luc Viatour from Bruxelles, Belgique – Parus major Luc Viatour, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9504603)

Animals adapt to climate heat, but too slowly

Physics WorldAUGUST 9,  2019 The climate is now changing at a rate far faster than any previous episode. A close analysis of 10,000 studies, shows animals that cannot migrate to cooler climates may be able to adapt, but not fast enough. The rapid heating of the planet is happening  at the same time as what may be the beginning of a mass extinction that could match any recorded in the rocks of the Permian, or other extinctions linked with global climate change. READ MORE

UN Warns: Climate Change Threatens the World’s Food Supply

The New York TimesAUGUST 8,  2019 The world’s land and water resources are being exploited at “unprecedented rates,” a new United Nations report warns, which combined with climate change is putting dire pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself. The report, prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries, found that the window to address the threat is closing rapidly. A half-billion people already live in places turning into desert, and soil is being lost between 10 and 100 times faster than it is forming, according to the report. READ MORE

Massive forest fires in Siberia are intensifying the climate crisis

Greenpeace InternationalAUGUST 5,  2019 Fires in the Taiga have been raging every year, but this summer’s blazes have reached unprecedented size and strength. The Siberian fires are emitting more than 166 Mt CO2 — nearly as much as 36 million cars emit a year. Fires in Siberian forests are especially dangerous for the climate as they are the source of black carbon that settles on the Arctic ice and accelerates its melting. READ MORE

Harmful Algal Blooms May Become the New Norm in Florida

Surfrider FoundationAUGUST 1, 2019 Ongoing water pollution and harmful algal blooms, including red tides and toxic blue-green algae, are putting public health at risk, causing massive die-offs of fish, marine life and sea turtles, and harming the tourist-driven economy of the Sunshine State. READ MORE

Alarming Sonar Results Show Glaciers May Be Melting Faster Than We Expected

Scientific AmericanJULY 26, 2019 A team of researchers has figured out how to determine the speed at which a glacier is melting. “The melt rates that we measured were about 10 to 100 times larger than what theory predicted,” says lead study author David A. Sutherland, an oceanographer at the University of Oregon. READ MORE

A Deadly Heat Wave After the Hottest June On Record: How the Climate Crisis Is Creating 'a New Normal'

TimeJULY 24, 2019 (Update) Millions of people faced heatwaves in Europe and sweltering temperatures in the U.S. Midwest and East Coast. Scientists say July will likely be the hottest July on record, following the hottest June on record. READ MORE

Climate change could revive medieval megadroughts in US Southwest

Science Daily—JULY 24, 2019 A new study provides the first comprehensive theory for why there were clusters of megadroughts in the American Southwest during Medieval times and suggests an increasing risk of future megadroughts in the American Southwest due to climate change. READ MORE

New Study Warns Climate Crisis May Have Been Pivotal in Rise of Drug-Resistant Superbug

Common Dreams—JULY 23, 2019 Research argues that deadly Candida auris “may be the first example of a new fungal disease emerging from climate change.” Lead author Arturo Casadevall says, “What this study suggests is this is the beginning of fungi adapting to higher temperatures, and we are going to have more and more problems as the century goes on.” READ MORE 

Central America’s choice: Pray for rain or migrate

NBC News with Inside Climate News—JULY 9, 2019 Ravaged by drought, farmers in rural Honduras and Guatemala live on the edge of hunger. Last year, farmers here watched helplessly as drought withered their corn and bean crops for a fifth straight year. With nothing to sell and no food supplies to feed their families, they’ve entered this growing season without any reserves. READ MORE 

Glacial melting in Antarctica may become irreversible

The Guardian—JULY 9, 2019 A NASA-funded study found instability in the Thwaites glacier meant there would probably come a point when it was impossible to stop it flowing into the sea and triggering a 50cm sea level rise. Recent research found the rate of ice loss from five Antarctic glaciers had doubled in six years and was five times faster than in the 1990s. READ MORE

One climate crisis disaster happening every week, UN warns

The Guardian—JULY 7, 2019 Climate crisis disasters are happening at the rate of one a week, though most draw little international attention and work is urgently needed to prepare developing countries for the profound impacts, the UN has warned. Mami Mizutori, the UN secretary-general’s special representative on disaster risk reduction says, “This is not about the future, this is about today. People need to talk more about adaptation and resilience.” READ MORE

UCSC biologist Barry Sinervo’s lizard extinction research could predict the wrath of climate change—and what to do about it

GoodTimes—JULY 3, 2019 “Everybody will be touched by it, and we need to do everything we can,” he says. “Climate change is like that. It will affect everybody on the planet personally.” READ MORE

Heaviest rainfall in more than a decade paralyzes Mumbai, home to 20 million people

The Washington Post—JULY 2, 2019 Mumbai had 375 millimeters (almost 15 inches) of rainfall, the highest in 14 years, according to India’s Meteorological Department. As of July 2, twenty-four people had died as a result. The deadly rainfall came after an unusually dry June that had sparked fears of water shortages and crop failures. READ MORE

Videos capture aftermath of June hail storm In Guadalajara, Mexico

NBC News—JULY 1, 2019 Videos posted to social media capture the aftermath of a freak summer hail storm that hit Guadalajara, Mexico after a month of mostly 90 degrees Fahrenheit days. The ice piled over 3 feet deep. No one was injured in the storm. “Hail more than a meter high, and then we wonder if climate change exists,” Jalisco state Gov. Enrique Alfaro Ramírez wrote on Twitter. READ NPR STORY

North Atlantic Right Whales face extinction

The Atlantic—JUNE 27, 2019 Six individuals—more than 1 percent of the population—were found dead just this month, the latest victims in a troubling pattern. According to World Wildlife Fund, the shift in food availability due to climate change has also hurt the reproductive rates of the endangered North Atlantic right whale. READ MORE

So many dead Gray Whales are washing up on the West Coast that NOAA is pleading for help

MSN.com—JUNE 22, 2019 70 dead gray whales have washed up along America’s West Coast in the highest in 20 years. Scientists believe most of the massive animals are starving to death and speculate that it’s because food sources are vanishing in the dramatically warmer waters triggered by climate change. READ MORE

The Midwest's farms face an intense, crop-killing future

Wired—JUNE 18, 2019 The flooding that devastated the Midwest this spring damaged infrastructure and prevented farmers from getting crops planted on time. So far this year’s heavy rains are a perfect illustration of what scientific models of climate change predict for the region. And it’s only going to get more intense. READ MORE

One person dead, 10 reported missing in San Gabriel after Jalisco river overflows its banks

Mexico News Daily—JUNE 3, 2019 Residents have claimed that the river overflowed not due to a rainstorm as previously thought but because of a landslide caused by deforestation. Since trees naturally sequester carbon, deforestation is a major contributor to the climate crisis. It also leave landscapes vulnerable to erosion. READ MORE

See the drastic toll climate change is taking on our oceans

National Geographic—JUNE 7, 2019 The massive amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that have entered our atmosphere since the Industrial Era began in the 18th century have had significant effects on the world’s oceans. LEARN MORE 

Carbon dioxide levels hit their highest ever level at 415 parts per million

Scripps Oceanography—MAY 15, 2019 Scientists measured a record level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere: 415 ppm, on May 12, 2019 surpassing 400 ppm for the first time in human history. Leaked internal documents from Exxon Mobil reveal that the oil and gas giant has seen this emissions landmark coming since 1982.

Mexico City Declares Environmental Emergency as Wildfire Smoke Chokes the Air

EcoWatch—MAY 15, 2019 This spring in Mexico City smoke caused air pollution to reach levels well above what the World Health Organization (WHO) considers safe. Rising temperatures, droughts, and longer, more intense wildfire seasons in Mexico have been linked to climate change, according to the Climate Reality Project. —READ MORE

1 Million Animal and Plant Species Now Threatened with Extinction

UN Biodiversity—MAY 6, 2019 The rate of species extinctions is accelerating at rates unprecedented in human history with grave impacts on people around the world now likely. The five direct drivers of this decline are: (1) changes in land and sea use; (2) direct exploitation of organisms; (3) climate change; (4) pollution and (5) invasive alien species. READ MORE

Ocean acidification 'could have consequences for millions'

Science Daily—APRIL 26, 2019 According to Professor Hall-Spencer, lead author of a new University of Plymouth ocean acidification study, “The time is ripe for a ‘Paris Agreement for the oceans’, with the specific target to minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification…” CO2-driven ocean acidification could have serious consequences for the millions of people globally whose lives depend on coastal protection, fisheries and aquaculture. READ MORE

How Mozambique Is Rebuilding After Devastating Cyclones

New York Times—APRIL 22, 2019 Idai was the deadliest cyclone to hit southern Africa in over a century. Augusto Brás and his wife, Amélia, lost their home and their son in the flooding. Now, with their crops ruined and the next big harvest a year away, staying alive is a daily struggle. Mozambique’s cyclones show how the climate crisis hits poor regions hardest. READ MORE

Scientists explain how climate change made Hurricane Maria so devastating

Think Progress—APRIL 17, 2019 The chances of Puerto Rico getting that much rain has jumped five-fold since the 1950s due to global warming. The record-breaking storm caused more than $90 billion in damage, with independent fatality estimates ranging from 2,975 deaths to “more than 5,000.” READ MORE

The YEARS Project is a multimedia storytelling and education effort designed to inform, empower, and unite the world to boldly address our climate emergency. Their Climate Facts page is filled with evidence of how the climate crisis is impacting our world, how these impacts will continue to escalate, and real solutions that already exist but are, in many cases, being hindered in our current political environment.  #YEARSproject

Deadly weather: the human cost of 2018's climate disasters – graphic

The Guardian—DECEMBER 2018 Scientists say extreme weather events are getting worse as emissions rise and the planet warms. This interactive timeline uses data from the Centre of Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters to show that in 2018 approximately 5,000 people died and 28.9 million needed emergency assistance or humanitarian aid due to climate-induced extreme weather. VIEW HERE

A warmer world leads to deadlier California fires and a more combustible country

The New York Times—November 27, 2018 Just weeks after the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history, The Trump administration’s assessment of the effects of climate change warned that continuing GHG emissions will make wildfires bigger and more widespread.

U.S. Climate Report Warns of Damaged Environment and Shrinking Economy

A major scientific report issued by 13 federal agencies in November 2018 presents the starkest warnings to date of the consequences of climate change for the United States, predicting that if significant steps are not taken to rein in global warming, the damage will have dramatic consequences by century’s end. READ MORE

On OCTOBER 8, 2018 the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that limiting global warming to 1.5ºC would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society. The report stated that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes. READ MORE

Fisheries and Oceans Canada—SEPTEMBER 22, 2016 Dr. Denis Gilbert explains the impacts of marine hypoxia, or low oxygen “dead zones”, in marine environments. Some dead zones occur naturally, and others result from human activities. Certain hypoxic areas, including one that occurs on the Pacific continental shelf, are linked to climate change.

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