Average temperatures around the globe have risen 1.5 degrees over the past century, mostly in the past 30 years.
In fact, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the last five years were the five hottest on record.
When it comes to this unprecedented change, human activity is to blame.
Much like a traditional greenhouse, Earth’s atmosphere works to trap in heat and radiation from the sun. The gases that make up our atmosphere are the glass to Earth’s greenhouse.
This effect, on its own, is important for life on Earth. In fact, our planet would be about 60 degrees cooler without it.
However, human activity is shifting the natural balance of our atmosphere by dramatically increasing the levels of greenhouse gases.
These gases, like carbon dioxide, are created when humans burn fossil fuels, something we’ve been doing as a species at an increasing rate since the 20th century.
In fact, NOAA says in 2013 the Earth’s atmosphere reached 400 ppm of carbon dioxide for the first time in recorded history.
These changes in our atmosphere have dramatic effects on our weather patterns. Sea level rise, severe droughts, massive wildfires and devastating floods can all be traced to the extreme changes our climate is undergoing. Summer heat and winter storms also are becoming more extreme.
Climate change is a scientific fact, agreed upon by 97 percent of scientists.
The Paris Climate Agreement, accepted by almost every country on the planet except for the United States, which backed out shortly after President Donald Trump entered office, sets clear goals on curtailing humans’ contributions to climate change.
The agreement sets a goal of preventing a modern temperature rise of 2 degrees. If climate change does reach this level, it could cause crop failure for wheat and soy, the widespread collapse of coral reefs and marine life, and other unprecedented effects beyond the extreme weather events we already see.