2015 was a record year for the damaging impacts of climate change all across the globe. Mankind is now looking at a present with weather conditions and rising sea levels that have never before been seen. It’s evident we must take the appropriate measures to curb the detrimental effects that have resulted from misuse and abuse of our planet’s resources.
In the recent report, State of the Climate, scientists and environmental experts reported that the Earth had the highest temperatures since the mid-19th century — and not just because of the Sun. These temperatures were influenced by the effects of global warming and the most intense El Niño weather phenomenon since 1950. Not only was it the hottest year in over 100 years, but greenhouse gases and sea levels also reached record highs.
The Earth also saw more strange and intense weather anomalies than ever before — and not simply in isolated areas. This interactive map shows them scattered all across the globe, illustrating the all-encompassing effects that climate change has on the world population.
The argument by some conservatives that climate change is a myth can hardly be supported by any type of fluff evidence anymore.
Leading climatologist, Michael Mann, told the Guardian in an interview, “The impacts of climate change are no longer subtle. They are playing out for us in real time. The 2015 numbers drive that home.” While there is a positive to implausible deniability that climate change is real, the danger in his statement reflects the urgent pace at which world leaders must adapt in the coming months and years to combat the negative impact humans have had on the planet.
This is no joking matter — regardless of what critics of climate change might have to say now. Last year, India and Pakistan saw a record of more than 1,000 people die as a result of heat waves. California also suffered a drought at levels not seen in a millennium, and walruses in Alaska were forced to shore in mass numbers.
Perhaps even more alarming, though, is that last year, James Hansen, a leading NASA climatologist, discovered a new feedback mechanism that predicted sea levels to rise much faster than originally thought — 10 feet by 2065 — and there is almost nothing that can be done to prevent it.
As harrowing as these recent findings are, climatologists like Hansen remain optimistic — that is if mankind takes the steps necessary to cap and reduce CO2 emissions. In fact, the historic COP21 agreement in Paris this past November shows that governments around the world are beginning to wake up and see that action must be taken now.
Transitioning away from fossil fuels in transportation, power and industry to renewable energies is an absolute necessity if mankind wants to make a significant effort at lowering the overall temperature of the globe.
The Paris agreement historically resulted in 186 countries pledging the formulation of action plans to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and even review those plans every five years. Moreover, the meeting encouraged involvement from not only governments, but the private sector as well.
Specifically in the United States, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released its guidance and recommendations for agencies to combat both direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions. However, the longevity of this policy will also depend on who takes office in November — the document was still met with heavy criticism by Republicans.
It remains to be seen if the U.S. will finally step up and take a leadership role in combating climate change, or if it will be left behind. There is a chance yet this year, with the COP22 in Morocco, but the lasting impact of involvement in this meeting will depend largely on the 2016 election.
One thing is for certain: The climate is simply an issue that can no longer be ignored. The information contained in the State of the Climate is proof of that. Mankind must continue to commit time and energy to solving this global problem as quickly as possible if we wish to see an inhabitable planet for our children and our children’s children.
Photos by NASA
Kayla Matthews writes and blogs about healthy living and has an especially strong passion for helping others increase their mental health and happiness by improving their daily productivity and positivity. To learn more about Kayla, you can follow her on Google+, Facebook and Twitter and check out her most recent posts on Productivity Theory. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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