Heatwaves can often be passed off as freak events when they are isolated to one specific place. But the current heatwave is happening across much of the world’s Northern Hemisphere. This means it’s not simply an anomaly, but a sign of widespread change. Despite what climate deniers and certain influential politicians might say, the world is literally heating up due to human activity, and we are currently watching it happen.
“We know that these kinds of events are very consistent with what we expect to be happening with climate change,” Jennifer Marlon of Yale University told The Times.
If we don’t manage to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and restrict warming to the 1.5°C (2.7°F) set out by the Paris Climate Accord, sweltering summer temperatures around the globe could become the world’s new normal. While this might sound rather nice to those living in usually chilly climes, the unpleasant side effects of global warming mean that it won’t be.
Rising sea levels will submerge idyllic islands like the Maldives and flood coastal cities like San Francisco. Unique and iconic animals around the globe could go extinct. And by the end of the century, there could be 2 billion climate refugees across the planet.
Luckily, we still have the chance to reduce climate change’s impacts, and the vast majority of nations are committed to doing so.