A recent article in Huffington Post summarizes all the things that show that while our attention is diverted by presidential politics and the pandemic, climate change is continuing to ravage our planet. The real question is not will we muster the willingness to take the drastic steps to keep warming under 1.5 degree Celcius, but rather, even if we do, will it be enough? Have we already passed the tipping point and going past 1.5°CC and even 2.0°C is already locked into the system.
Here are some of the highlights:
2020 is expected to rank among the five warmest on record for the planet. According to NOAA there is a 75% chance that it will be the hottest or second hottest. The highest ever recorded combined land and ocean surface average temperature in the Northern Hemisphere occured in July, 2.12 degrees Fahrenheit (1.18 degree Celcius) above average. The 6 hottest July’s on record are the last six.
July set a new record low for Arctic sea ice for the month – 120,000 square miles below the previous record low mark for July set in 2019, and 840,000 square miles below the 1981-2010 average, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). NOTE: 120,000 square miles is about the size of New Mexico. 840,000 square miles is the size of Alaska AND California AND Indiana (and you can toss in Rhode Island too).
Wildfires in California have burned more than 422,000 acres of land, destroyed nearly 300 structures and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people. The state’s largest fire, the SCU Lightning Complex – had torched nearly 140,000 acres as it burned east of San Jose. That’s nearly double the size of last year’s largest blaze, the Kincade fire, which burned more than 77,700 acres across Sonoma County. (And no, Mr. President, sweeping our floors will not prevent these wildfires.)
Forecasters have predicted an above-average season for hurricanes this year, possibly one of the busiest on record. In the first two months of the hurricane season – which runs from June 1-Nov. 30 – a record-setting nine named storms occurred. That’s seven more than the average number through early August, according to NOAA.
Earlier this month, a rare storm known as a derecho tore across the Midwest, with hurricane-force winds topping 100 mph. The storm killed at least three people in Iowa, destroyed or extensively damaged about 8,200 homes, and destroyed a third of the state’s cropland, Gov. Kim Reynolds said. Ten days after the storm hit, nearly 19,000 people in Iowa remained without power. Estimated damage is $4 billion. Though April is typically not one of the worst months for tornadoes, this year proved an exception.
More than 350 tornadoes were reported in the U.S. during the month, the second-highest number of twisters ever for an April, according to preliminary numbers by the National Weather Service, whose records date back to 1970. These storms killed 40 people, making April the deadliest tornado month since 41 people died in May 2013. Also attributed to climate change, fewer than normal tornadoes occurred in May and June, attributed to weather systems in the southwest lacking the moisture to fuel tornadoes.