climate crisis
December 10, 2019

Warming air and water temperatures, eroding sea ice, and wildlife showing signs of stress — the Arctic Report Card for 2019 portrays a rapidly changing climate and ecosystem.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations' report, released Tuesday, outlines how arctic ecosystems and communities are at risk. Meanwhile, world leaders are at the COP25 climate summit in Madrid working on ways to approach the crisis.

Scientists noted that feared climate change acceleration may already be underway. The soil underneath Arctic permafrost contains about twice as much carbon as is currently in the atmosphere, per the report. As temperatures rise, this carbon is released into the atmosphere in the form of greenhouse gasses, creating a loop of climate change acceleration.

"We've turned this corner for Arctic carbon," Ted Schurr, a researcher at Northern Arizona University who was involved with the report card, told The Washington Post, and the amount of carbon emitted in the Arctic will continue to grow. This will make achieving carbon-cutting goals of the Paris Climate Agreement even more difficult.

Indigenous Elders in the Bering Sea region are among the first groups of people to experience hardships of climate change, as the Arctic region is warming twice as fast as the global average. The report states that climate change is threatening their "homes, schools, airports, and utilities."

"We fear for our young people," they said in the report. "We worry that they will grow without the same foods and places that we have known throughout our lives."

The Arctic report card was the 14th annual from the NOAA, and was developed by 81 scientists from 12 countries. Taylor Watson

September 23, 2019

Sixteen adolescents, including Swedish teen Greta Thunberg, are suing five countries for violating their rights as children by not taking sufficient measures against climate change. But they don't want money, they want action.

The lawsuit was announced Monday shortly after Thunberg's emotional speech in front of the United Nations General Assembly. The five countries named are Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, and Turkey — the children filing the suit, all under 18, are from 12 different countries, including four of the five named in the suit, reports Gizmodo.

They claim the countries did not uphold the 30-year-old U.N. treaty Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is the most widely ratified in history, and lays out rights to life, health, and peace.

The plaintiffs expressed how climate change is negatively impacting them, ranging from worsening asthma to having to leave their homes for fear of running out of water — showing that pollution of the environment has no borders.

The complaint is to be heard by a committee of children's rights experts, and, if successful, the U.N. will classify the climate crisis as a children's rights crisis, according to Gizmodo. Then the five countries must exit the convention or address climate change.

Two of the largest carbon dioxide emitters, China and the United States, are not named, as they did not ratify the part of the treaty that allows children to file a suit against the countries signed onto the protocol. Read more at Gizmodo. Taylor Watson

September 11, 2019

Global temperature rise is indisputably here.

Two degrees Celsius has become the politically agreed-upon — albeit somewhat arbitrary — limit scientists have warned we need to keep global warming below to prevent the worst effects of climate change. But much of the world has already warmed past that threshold, and the heat is leaving very obvious consequences in its growing wake, a Washington Post analysis has found.

In the last five years, between 8 and 11 percent of the world has seen temperatures rise 2 degrees Celsius or higher when compared with pre-industrial temperatures. When the last 10 years are taken into account, that drops to 5 to 9 percent of the world, showing that temperatures have continued to rise in the most recent years.

Most of this temperature rise is centered around the Arctic, with northern countries such as Switzerland and Kazakhstan entirely encompassed by 2-degree temperature rise. But there are anomalies too, like a hot spot off the coast of Uruguay and Argentina that is killing off clam populations. The Washington Post has animated a map of the Earth to show where temperature rise is harshest, which you can watch below or explore more in depth here. Kathryn Krawczyk

August 15, 2019

July 2019 is officially the hottest month on record. The average global temperature soared to 1.71 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday.

The report comes after speculation and earlier data from the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service that made the same conclusion.

July marked the 415th consecutive month with above-average temperatures world-wide, according to data from NOAA, a branch of the U.S. Department of Commerce that studies climate and weather. The previous hottest month recorded was July 2016; records date back 140 years to 1880.

Last month also saw record-low Arctic sea ice at 19.8 percent below the historic average for the same time of year.

Earlier this month, United Nations secretary-general António Guterres said "beautiful speeches" are not enough to combat climate change — action is needed. The UN released a report on climate change last week and is holding a Climate Action Summit in September "to boost ambition and accelerate actions to implement the Paris Agreement on Climate Change." Taylor Watson

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