Climate change is fueling extremism, raising tempers along with temperatures by the day, and forcing nations to choose between the poor and the rich. But the real world doesn’t always look like the one depicted in the popular media.
To understand why, let’s start by looking at the evidence.
Over the past few decades, numerous studies have shown that temperatures are rising at a record pace:
• The average global temperature has risen nearly 0.8 degrees Celsius over the last century, according to a 2015 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
• For the last three decades, the mean surface air temperature in the Northern Hemisphere has increased by 1.4 degrees Celsius.
• And this year already, the average temperature for the Northern Hemisphere is near twice the pre-industrial level, a new study reveals (see chart). As for the future, the U.N. Environment Program predicts climate change will be the dominant factor affecting our ability to feed, water and clothe our communities.
This is causing more heat, more drought and more wildfires, not only in the high Arctic, but also in temperate regions like Europe and Asia.
The most recent report from the United Nations suggests that these changes are having an effect across a broad range of environmental problems, from food security to carbon emissions. This climate change, the UN warns, “can bring catastrophic effects, for example, by contributing to further warming, altering rainfall patterns, and causing sea level to rise.”
According to the U.N., the problem is getting worse.
A recent U.N. report on the effect of global warming and climate change on human societies and livelihoods found that it was increasingly difficult to provide food security to large parts of the world and to make people resilient to extreme weather events.
The same report also found that efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions would reduce average temperatures by around 0.06 degrees Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit.
These findings are consistent with earlier studies. For example, a 1999 study conducted