Climate change is no longer a distant threat. We are living with the reality of it, right here and right now. The impacts of climate disruption in the United States and around the world are clear, costly and widespread. Human action can reduce the toll of climate change, but every year of delay means higher costs and impacts.
We see the fingerprints of global warming on disasters ranging from intense wildfires and flooded coastlines, to extreme heat waves and the growing threats to human health. Weather catastrophes in the United States have incurred a cost of over $1 trillion in damages over the past 30 years. Climate disruption has driven up food prices, increased the risk of West Nile outbreaks across the U.S., and helped fuel wildfires that caused over $1 billion in damages in 2013. Our seas are now 30 percent more acidic due to the carbon pollution taken up by the oceans. Global warming drives up sea levels, increasing the reach of storm surges and amplifying disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated parts of the Philippines in the fall of 2013. Arctic sea ice is retreating, a change that may be altering global weather patterns and bringing harsh winter storms south to the United States. Permafrost is melting due to warming, which could trigger climate feedbacks that further worsen warming.
As our understanding of specific impacts improves, we are better equipped to “connect the dots” and recognize that we are living in a rapidly changing climate.