This year is on its way to be the third hottest on record globally, according to Climate Central. Last year was the fourth warmest, behind 2016 (the warmest), 2015, and 2017.
With the climate drastically changing to become warmer comes disaster for the planet.
Take for example the Amazon fires that have been making headlines the past week. While farmers and loggers purposefully set fire to the rainforest to clear land for industrial or agricultural use, climate change does increase the likelihood and frequency of wildfires. Hotter air sucks away the moisture from trees and soil, while decreased rainfall makes for parched forests that are more prone to burning.
Indeed, in 2019, Brazil has recorded more fires than in any other year since researchers began keeping track in 2013. They are harming three million species of plants and animals, and one million indigenous people who call the Amazon home.
As the world’s largest rainforest, the Amazon plays a crucial role in keeping our planet’s carbon-dioxide levels in check, and as such slowing down global warming. Often referred to as the “lungs of the planet”, the forest produces between 6% and 20% of the oxygen in our planet’s atmosphere. But when trees burn, they release carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere, where it contributes to climate change.
Elsewhere on earth, global warming is causing a rapid melting of enormous masses of ice, from the ice sheet in Greenland to the towering glaciers in West Antarctica.
By 2100, up to 2 billion people — or about a fifth of the world’s population — could be displaced from their homes and forced to move inland because of rising ocean levels, according to a 2017 study. Some island nations would be at risk of disappearing, including Tuvalu, the Maldives and the Marshall Islands.