On July 3, the world passed what had previously been the highest global temperature recorded for any previous date. Since then, every single day has been hotter than any day previous to July 3. For 24 straight days, we’ve been living on an Earth hotter than anyone in recorded history ever knew.
And around the world, the effects of a climate in crisis are … not subtle.
Massive hail storms have come with frightening frequency across Europe this summer, a sure signal of just how much energy has been pumped into the atmosphere.
Many of the giant hailstones that have appeared in images are actually the result of two or more stones sticking together after reaching the ground, but that’s certainly not the case for all of them.
When it hasn’t been hail, it’s been wind. Violent low-level windstorms across some areas have included winds with the force and speed of an F2 tornado—only they’ve covered regions, not just a few blocks.
These straight-line wind storms have sometimes seemed to come from nowhere, striking extremely quickly and threatening lives expressly because there was so little warning about their speed of development and severity.
At the same time, the heat engine behind these storms is bringing drier winds to some regions, creating conditions that are ripe for a scene that has become all too familiar to Americans on the West Coast in the past few years.
Sicily has been one of hardest-hit areas, not least of all because temperatures there have reached 47 degrees Celsius (117 degrees Fahrenheit). But it’s certainly not the only place suffering raging fires in the past week. Efforts to evacuate areas of Rhodes in Greece have resulted in scenes that look far too much like the worst predictions from those who have been warning about the climate crisis for decades.
The flames are threatening some of the most historic places in Europe. Cities that saw the rise of Rome are now threatened with the fate of Carthage.
That’s ice, wind, and fire. It’s no surprise that water has also figured into the disasters of the past week. In India, floods reached unbelievable proportions after flood control systems were overtopped in Junagadh.
Some areas have even put disasters together into an “ice flood,” with hail storms and rain becoming so intense that summer streets look like the edges of a shattering Arctic.
Even underwater locations aren’t safe. If you’ve ever gone diving over living coral reefs off the coast of Florida, count yourself lucky. You were one of the last human beings to see an ecosystem that, as of right now, no longer exists.
In the past few days, temperatures at a depth of over one meter have exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius), making them uninhabitable for many marine organisms. Many corals respond to such heat by expelling the algae that live within them, resulting in “bleaching,” which leaves behind the pale skeleton of a formerly living reef.
If every day it seems like this is a world where the seas get warmer …
… the polar caps get smaller …
… and the possibility of a crisis that hits every aspect of life on the planet looms nearer …
That’s because it is. This is your world on fire. And every day that this crisis is not treated as the highest priority of every government on the planet is a day we watch it burn.
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