30 photos that show why you should worry about climate change
Temperatures in Karachi, Pakistan, finally began to subside on Wednesday, dropping to 98 degrees on the fourth day of a ruthless heat wave that has so far killed more than 830 people, according to the Associated Press. At its peak, the heat rose to 113 degrees Fahrenheit.
Officials shuttered schools and government offices and a state of emergency was declared. Paramilitaries have reportedly set up emergency medical camps on the streets for those suffering from heat stroke and dehydration who cannot make it to the overrun hospitals.
The weather is expected to improve in the coming days, meteorologists reported on Thursday, with light rain ahead.
But the forecast remains dire in the United States, where wildfires and forest fires continue to rage across more than 25 square miles south of Lake Tahoe in Northern California and more than 27 square miles in the San Bernardino Mountains in Southern California, with one more fire starting and threatening homes on June 24.
Parts of Alaska have been evacuated as 242 fires continue to burn across 503 square miles. Two wildfires are being fought in Oregon as well as one in Washington. Texas flooding has made roads invisible, while tornadoes ripped through the Midwest and carried storms east toward New York and Washington, D.C.
The Environmental Protection Agency this week released a report predicting more “furious storms, extreme heat and poisonous air” leading up to the year 2100 in which, if climate change goes on unaddressed, temperatures are expected to reach 9 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial records.
The EPA has said refusing to take action could cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars. But, it said in a June 23 webinar, it should be made clear that the new report captures just “a portion of the total” outcome, and that the impacts of climate change will not be equally distributed, with poorer, underdeveloped countries hit even harder.
The study focused on the economic costs and benefits of taking global action in an effort to change the dialogue around climate change and to make the conversation more palatable for Americans.
While a Pew Research Center study has found that public support for stricter limits on power plant emissions and efforts toward developing alternative energy has increased, and support for fracking is down to 41% from 48% in 2013, a “solid majority” of Americans continue to favor the building of the Keystone XL pipeline. As of November 2014, 270 of 278 congressional Republicans had expressed some form of skepticism about climate change in data collected by Politifact before the GOP took control of the Senate in 2015.
But according to Pew, the biggest question for Americans is the one the EPA attempted to address: is environmental protection worth the cost?
Only 56% of the American public – a small majority – believes it is. Nearly four in ten of those asked, Pew found, said “tougher environmental laws and regulations cost too many jobs and hurt the economy.”
At the same time that relentless, damaging weather has dominated world headlines, end-of-the-world action films have also reigned at the box office. American audiences have flocked to the cinema to be swept away by apocalyptic fantasies, while extreme and unusual weather continues to cripple regions around the world, including many parts of the U.S.
“Mad Max: Fury Road”—a post-apocalyptic movie that sees the world reduced to dust and highlights water and crop scarcity—opened at number two in theaters, and has grossed more than $144, million domestically since its May 15 release. “San Andreas,” in which a record-breaking earthquake splits open California, devouring everything from Los Angeles to San Francisco, opened at the number one spot on May 29, and has gone on to gross more than $133 million domestically.
Dust storms like the one featured in “Mad Max,” albeit without the special effects, could be seen this month in India. The state of California’s drought has become so severe that Gov. Jerry Brown has implemented sweeping, unprecedented water restrictions on residents and businesses.
In a report published on June 23 by British medical journal The Lancet, it is said that more people than previously thought could experience severe floods, droughts, heat and other extreme weather events. According to the report’s authors, exposure to extreme rainfall may more than quadruple, while the number of people effected by severe drought will triple from what the world experienced in the 1990s.
Meanwhile, NASA released data last week showing how the earth is running out of water as more than half of the planet’s aquifers are depleted, and a Stanford researcher’s study this week concluded that humanity is now in the beginnings of a sixth mass extinction event, with species disappearing at faster rates than at any time since the dinosaurs’ expiration.
“Species are disappearing up to about 100 times faster than the normal rate between mass extinctions,” the report warns, citing “extremely conservative estimates.”
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, 41% of all amphibian species are threatened by extinction, along with 26% of all mammals. Each species that disappears is likely to destabilize entire ecosystems.
“There are examples of species all over the world that are essentially the walking dead,” said Paul Ehrlich, co-author of the report. “We are sawing off the limb that we are sitting on.”
Above are photos showing some of the most punishing weather events to take place around the world so far in the month of June.