Climate change is happening, it’s real. And it’s man made. Let doubters such as US President Donald Trump know: this is truth most evident.
The evidence is overwhelming — our planet is changing faster than it ever has before. Here are some stories in 2019 demonstrating how Earth’s climate has gone completely off the rails.
Polar Bear invasion:
Earlier this year, 52 hungry polar bears occupied a small work settlement in a remote Russian Arctic archipelago, much to the displeasure of the town’s residents. It’s not uncommon to see polar bears near Russia’s southern coasts, where they regularly converge in winter for seasonal seal hunts. But thinning sea ice caused by global warming likely drove the bears inland in search of food. The allure of edible waste in the town’s garbage bins and dump sites likely stopped the bears from migrating farther north and prompted regional officials to declare a state of emergency.
Record-breaking carbon dioxide levels
This year, scientists measured more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than there has been for 800,000 years — since before our species evolved.
In May 2019, the levels of the greenhouse gas reached 415 parts per million (ppm), as measured by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at its Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. During the ice ages, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere were around 200 ppm. And during the interglacial periods — the planet is currently in an interglacial period — levels were around 280 ppm, according to NASA. Humans are burning fossil fuels, causing the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. And as a result, every year, the Earth sees about 3 ppm more carbon dioxide in the air.
The Arctic permafrost is rapidly disappearing
This year, we learned that in the Canadian Arctic, layers of permafrost that scientists expected to remain frozen for at least 70 years have already begun thawing. The once-frozen surface is now sinking and dotted with melt ponds and from above looks a bit like Swiss cheese, satellite images revealed.
This was shocking news because climate experts had predicted that air temperatures wouldn’t be warm enough to melt the frozen ground until after 2090. However, researchers believe higher summer temperatures, low levels of insulating vegetation and the presence of ground ice near the surface contributed to the exceptionally rapid and deep thawing.
Alaska got hotter this year
This year, for the first time in recorded history, Anchorage, Alaska, reached 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius). That sweltering temperature, recorded on July 4, meant that the normally snowbound city, which is just 370 miles (595 kilometers) from the Arctic Circle, was hotter than New York City. (NYC hit 85 F that day, according to timeanddate.com.)
The previous record-breaking temperature in Anchorage was 85 F (29 C), which occurred June 14, 1969, according to KTUU, an Anchorage broadcast station affiliated with NBC News.
More than 200 reindeer died from starvation
This summer, researchers found more than 200 dead reindeer on the island of Svalbard in Norway. The animals starved to death because climate change disrupted their access to the plants that they typically eat.
Climate change brings warmer temperatures to Svalbard, which results in more rain. After the heavy December rain hit the ground, the precipitation froze, creating “tundra ice caps,” a thick layer of ice that prevented reindeer from reaching vegetation in their usual winter grazing pastures, and the reindeer eventually starved to death.
July was the hottest month ever recorded
July 2019 was really, really hot. It was at least as hot as the previous warmest month ever, recorded in June 2016, and it may have even been hotter. The record put 2019 on track to be among the top five hottest years in history.
Greenland ice melting
A staggering 217 billion tons (197 billion metric tons) of meltwater flowed off Greenland’s ice sheet into the Atlantic Ocean this July. The worst day of melting was July 31, when 11 billion tons (10 billion metric tons) of melted ice poured into the ocean.
This massive thaw represents some of the worst melting since 2012, according to The Washington Post. That year, 97% of the Greenland ice sheet experienced melting. By July of this year, 56% of the ice sheet had melted, but temperatures — 15 to 20 F above average — have been higher than during the 2012 heat wave. All told, this July’s melt alone was enough to raise global average sea levels by 0.02 inches (0.5 millimeters), according to the Post.
Africa’s iconic Victoria Falls is drying up:
Africa’s iconic Victoria Falls, straddling Zimbabwe and Zambia is running dry, the victim of climate change. The tourist attraction is one of the seven wonders of the world. And it may cease to attract hordes of visitors if the present situation continues.
Some experts told iharare.com that the dryness was a result of 25 years of brutal drought in the region.
The water levels are reportedly at their lowest since 1995. Stretches of this kilometre-long natural wonder are nothing but dry stone. Water flow is low in others.
Zambia President Edgar Lungu aired his concerns on the state of the Falls in a Twitter post:
“These pictures of the Victoria Falls are a stark reminder of what climate change is doing to our environment and our livelihood. It is with no doubt that developing countries like #Zambia are the most impacted by climate change and the least able to afford its consequences.”
“We have no time to play politics with climate change. We must come together and provide solutions around mitigation and adaptation. As Whit Ayres, Republican Political Consultant observed recently: “Denying the basic existence of climate change is no longer a credible position.”