I have always believed we have a sacred responsibility to assure the safety and well-being of all children. There can be no greater obligation than this. And yet, while we wring our hands about how our kids are doing today, there is a looming clear and present threat to their future well-being.
That threat is our changing climate. Virtually every prediction about climate change is coming true in the real world. Not in the halls of congress, not in scientific institutes, but outside everywhere on the planet.
Our short-sightedness on environmental issues today will have a devastating impact on our children and grandchildren throughout their lives. So below, I have collected facts about the already-occurring changes in our climate.
There are no pretend facts here. Nothing made up. Only things that are both well-documented and that you can go out and see, feel, touch and, for the most part, photograph. Whatever you think the reasons might be, our earth is changing for the worse, and we need to do something about it.
Increased global temperatures:
- The earth has warmed in the past 137 years, especially in the past 35 years.
- 2016 was the hottest year on record, a third record-breaking year in a row.
- July 2016 was the 15th consecutive warmest month ever.
- Fourteen of the 15 hottest years have occurred since 2000.
- 1995-2005 was the warmest decade in the arctic since at least the 1600s.
Higher ocean temperatures and mass bleaching of coral reefs:
Melting sea ice:
- The Arctic ice pack is now at least 60% smaller than in the 1980s.
- Greenland's ice sheet is melting five times faster than during the 1990s.
- 1 million square miles of arctic sea ice has been lost since the late 1970s. That’s equivalent to Alaska and Texas combined.
- In October, 2016, sea ice was 28.5 percent below average — the lowest October level since records began being kept in 1979.
Retreat of glaciers:
Rising sea levels and flooding of coastal areas:
Growth of ocean algae:
Reduced mountain snowpack:
Extreme and extended droughts:
- The drought in California killed over 102 million trees, increasing the risk of large and costly wildfires.
Decline of wild animal populations:
Changed migration patterns of birds, insects and animals:
- The average winter “center of abundance” for north American birds moved more than 40 miles north between 1966 and 2013.
- Insects such as aphids are flying earlier and for a longer time.
- Fish species are moving north to find cooler water.
- Animals in Yosemite are moving higher to find cooler temperatures.
Bigger and hotter forest fires:
More powerful storms and increased heavy rainfall events:
- Cyclones and hurricanes have been more powerful over the past 30 years. Six of the 10 most active cyclone years have happened since the mid-1990s.
- There are more intense rainfall events and heavy flooding in the US.
- There were at least eight events in the United States over two and a half years in which precipitation exceeded the amount that should just occur once in 500 years.
- These extreme single-day precipitation events have increased significantly since 1980.
Acidification of the oceans:
- Ocean carbon dioxide levels have risen as the oceans absorb some of the increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Ocean acidity has increased 30% since the industrial revolution began.
Later freeze dates and earlier thaw dates:
- Lakes freeze later and thaw earlier than in the past.
- The growing season in the contiguous US has increased by nearly two weeks since the beginning of the 20th century.
- Arctic spring melt occurs about three and a half weeks earlier on average, while the fall freeze starts three and a half weeks later. This has resulted in seven weeks’ loss of hunting habitat for polar bears.
- Leaf and bloom dates occur earlier throughout the Northern Hemisphere.
Growth of insect populations and associated diseases: