DANGER! Extreme Weather and the Climate Crisis

By: Madison Duke

Photo by Simon Berger on Pexels.com

As much as I love basking in the summer heat and relaxing under the summer sun, I always find it gratifying that there are always cool days in the midst of the hottest season. However, temperatures are now climbing to unprecedented heights. No, it’s not the typical rise in warmth on a sunny pool day, but rather a rise to the climate as we know it, which is already proving to be devastating to our environment and our lives.

Climate change is no stranger to the press; it has been making headlines for decades, as if we’ve been slowly living through its slow burn. After decades of ignorance on humanity’s part, climate change is sprinting with the all the energy we’ve been fuelling it with through our factories, cars, plane trips to the Bahamas, and other things that we’ve deemed ‘natural’. It’s catching up to us, faster than we can stop it from destructing our already damaged world. Over these years, articles have shifted from, “What is climate change?” to, “How much time do we have left before it’s too late?”

Of course, it’s always important to remember that climate change isn’t any old issue that can be solved by choosing not to throw your food wrapper on the ground. Our planet is constantly heating up while we continue driving around town with the exhaust funnelling out into the atmosphere. Climate change is a larger issue than any single one of us, and if it continues to worsen at its current rate, it will be too late for apologies and regrets of buying that plastic water bottle instead of drinking perfectly good tap water.

Our Climate Through the Decade

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How quickly has the climate changed over the past decade? In 2010, our global average temperature was approximately 0.88˚C, while as of 2019 was 1.1˚C. That is, quite frankly, a terrifying increase, even more so considering that the incredibly short time period of this crescendo. For just under a 10-year difference, this surge was far higher than expected, and extremely dangerous. We must consider not only the immediate effects of this sudden change that we can see and feel, such as the heightened need for an air conditioner, but also the impact on wildlife, where the years taken to adapt to new environments are not granted, leaving nature grasping at straws to even live and effectively eradicating biodiversity.

Heat isn’t just skyrocketing temperatures or something that the media gets to write about every so often to generate revenue; it’s a major player in the rising sea levels, which has climbed a full 2 inches since the increase began at 3.3 millimetres per year. While this may not appear to be a significant amount on paper, this amount is equivalent to the diameter of your soda can or a lemon. Think about the amount of glaciers that must have melted in order to increase the overall ocean sea level by that much. Think about all the land that the world’s coastal communities have lost due to the necessity to retreat further inland in order to avoid water destruction. These escalating water levels will result in more storm surges and flooding, which are ruinous on so many fronts.

Several researches have found that extreme weather events, including natural disasters, are becoming more intense and more damaging. Heat waves, rainfall, flooding, fires, drought  and hurricanes are just a few examples of what could become frequent occurrences in our lives. With each passing year, as global temperatures increase, our climate becomes deadlier and more catastrophic.

2021’s Bout with Extreme Weather

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If recent history hasn’t been enough to convince you to become more environmentally-conscious and look for sustainable solutions, consider the indisputable fact that our cities and countries are in for a lot of pain and suffering moving forward due to the changes that have already imprinted into our climate. As of 2021, there has been an unsurprising rise in natural disasters, resulting in an inflation in environmental fatalities. The changing climate has already begun to affect every corner of the earth, and the situation will only get worse. To put things into perspective within Canada, our infamous cold winter climates (igloos, anyone) and white Christmases are starting to look a tad bit greener. Several times this summer, Canada set new record-high temperature. This scorching heat has caused a raging wildfire to jog through the nation, burning our forests and wildlife to dust. Furthermore, the same fire that “is happening in the woods, so it’s okay” burned houses straight to the ground, claiming the lives of over 700 people. 

Floods swept through Europe in mid-July, swirling up houses and cars into the streets, and leaving researchers shocked at the extent of the horrific damage. The flood also sparked fear and concern about what this means for future weather patterns: if this flood is considered bad in 2021, what will a flood look like in 2030? From the past, we know that nine years is more than enough time for astounding changes in global temperature…just imagine the state of our globe if we continue insensibly trodding down this path, never changing. Evidently, this is far from being the last of these devastating floods, and there’s no doubt that in the near future, they’ll return much worse and far more powerful. If action is not taken, flood forecasting and planning will be of no value to us. If no action is taken, and we will be utterly unprepared for what’s to come. 

While hurricane season is a natural occurrence, this past summer’s Hurricane Elsa, which moved throughout the west coast of Florida, was linked to none other than the infamous celebrity that is climate change. Elsa’s severity was beyond the regular of typical patterns, leaving nine inches of rain (the approximate width of an iPad Pro), earning the title of the earliest fifth named storm on record, and making itself known as one of the fastest moving hurricanes. Given the past few years’ affinity to record-breaking, things aren’t looking bright as we draw closer to the end of 2021.

A Call From the Bleak Future

Our planet has been waving a huge red flag in our faces for years and experts have repeatedly warned us with the facts, yet we continue to ignore the obvious. We now only have a short period of time before we hit the point beyond redemption, which isn’t too far off. If we don’t act now, it is highly likely that we’ll hit dangerous temperatures between 2027 and 2042. The climate crisis should not be our new normal. This is a rapidly growing problem that must be addressed NOW. The world only has a limited amount of time before damage becomes irreversible, at which point it is predicted that everything will break loose: food shortages due to agriculture failing in the extreme heat will cause starvation, horrendous air quality from our factories and cars will kill millions, and rising sea levels will cause the relocation of 40% of the Earth’s population to move away from their coastal communities. Dear readers, have you ever watched the Hunger Games, or maybe even Divergent? Two famed Dystopian societies that we oh-so enjoy diving into on the big screen. I hate it to break it to everyone, but WE, the humans of planet Earth, are on the brink of becoming a box office sensation.

To avoid this bleak fate, it is time for all of us, young and old, to complete our responsibilities of being a human living on Earth and research into what YOU can do to aid the environment. It is futile to wait for companies to release statements on how they’re going to be green, only to watch them scrap it up after Earth day is over. If you are someone who plans on living past today, it is time to start being more considerate of how your actions are causing our demise. It is time to understand where you have gone wrong in the past, and how you can improve now knowing this. It is time stop listening to predictions about how the world will end in a few decades because of climate change, and start doing.

It’s now or never.

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