Shrinking sea ice, a marker of climate change, can be seen from space.

Climate Change Fears Solidify In August 2016

If you’re reading this, you should be sitting down.

Whatever your political inclination, regardless of where you get your news, this article should make you consider the words “climate change” differently.

An article in The Guardian dated August 21 entitled “‘Next year or the year after, the Arctic will be free of ice'” should send a shiver down your spine. More like a heat wave. Robin McKie’s article focuses on Peter Wadhams, a climate scientist who was one of the first to demonstrate that the Artic icecap was beginning to thin. His book, A Farewell to Ice, is set for release in September.

Wadhams has pegged summer of 2017 or 2018 for an ice-free Arctic. By this, he means that the central basin in the Arctic Ocean will be passable by cruise liner. Even more disturbing, this possibility has been corroborated by the once impenetrable Northwest Passage opening up to ocean liners due to climate change, as reported by CDA News.

“There is no period in Earth’s history where the rate of rise of atmospheric CO2 is as great as it is today.”

Beijing is known for its heavy air pollution (a climate change contributor), which crosses government-mandated thresholds multiple times every year.
A woman wears a face mask in Beijing in December 2015. The city is notorious for its heavy smog which poses a public health hazard. [Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images]
Wadhams likens this dramatic change to the asteroid impact that thrust the dinosaurs to extinction. Said to have ejected 4.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, Wadhams counters by saying, “… [this] was still an order of magnitude lower than the current rate.”

It’s not just about ice. Our freshwater rivers and lakes are seeing drastic and traumatic changes, evidenced by the Washington Post’s coverage of the change visitors to the Colorado River have witnessed. Cracked soil is the only evidence that fresh water once existed in these areas before climate change caused the drying we see today. The article continues that a water shortage warning in this region may go into effect by 2018; with drought and water rationing already occurring in California, the most populous state in the United States, this news would be dire.

TIME, among many news outlets, broke the news on August 15 that “July Was the Single Warmest Month Ever Recorded,” with 2016 set to be the hottest year on record as well. July was a recorded 0.78ºC (1.4ºF) warmer than the 20th century average, a significant change. The U.S. experienced a nationwide “heat dome” of higher temperatures, and a record temperature of 54ºC (129.2ºF) was recorded in Kuwait, the second-hottest ever recorded in the eastern hemisphere. TIME also shared photographs comparing the effects of climate change on Greenland.

We often connote record-breaking and change in the positive sense, for progress’ sake. In this case, however, the staggering change to our global climate, environment and ecology should serve as a grim warning not only for what is to come but also that as a species, we must make remedying climate change a top priority to ensure the habitability of our planet for future generations.

Climate change has been proven to influence an increased frequency of extreme weather conditions and their severity.
Hurricane Patricia seen from the International Space Station. Climate change has correlated with an increased frequency of extreme weather conditions and their severity. [Photo by Scott Kelly/NASA via Getty Images]
It seems like the news outlets are crying out for political accountability. The New Yorker asked on July 30, “Where Was Climate Change At The Party Conventions?” The magazine’s James Surowiecki observed that the issue of climate change was not held as a top priority by either party, with the Democrats (at least in theory) showing a commitment to curtailing greenhouse gas emissions and, by extension, climate change.

When GOP nominee Donald Trump actively denies climate change (on the record of The Washington Post), even going so far as to claim it as a “Chinese hoax,” the public should be concerned.

Even more concerning are the reports coming from Princeton University as far back as 2013, warning, “Even if emissions stop, carbon dioxide could warm Earth for centuries.

Another report published in Nature in 2008, expands this window, hypothesizing that CO2 contributing to climate change could linger in our atmosphere for millennia. Thousands of years. Understandably, this has prompted leading scientists to focus strategies on carbon sequestration, or the capture and conversion of carbon dioxide to solid or liquid form; a market that Business Wire, a Berkshire Hathaway company, believes will grow 13.4 percent by 2021 to reach $8.05 billion in value.

The strategies and solutions to climate change must come fast. We have already passed the point of no return. Now is the time to create change and shift our climate in a favorable direction, not only for the survival of humanity but also for our planet’s other natural fauna and oxygen-providing flora.

[Photo by iStock]

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