North American farmers are experiencing one of the worst growing seasons in years. Drought and extreme heat have combined to create deadly conditions for crops, especially corn and soybeans, resulting in rising food prices. Simultaneously, nearly all of Greenland’s ice surface experienced some degree of melting in July, shocking scientists, since such widespread melting has not been seen for 150 years.
At the end of July, India experienced two huge power outages on two consecutive days, the second of which affected some 600 million people. That’s almost 10% of the population of the planet. Demand for electricity has risen, at least partly due to higher demand for air conditioning to beat the heat, and farmers drawing more electric power for irrigation pumps to water their crops with well water, due to the weak monsoon season. The lack of rain has also reduced hydroelectric power generation capacity.
At the same time as the high incidence of drought and high temperatures around the world, an infamous global warming denier has come out and admitted that not only is climate change happening, but it is attributable to humans’ burning of fossil fuels.
All of this paints a disturbing, but clear, image of what the future has in store. Many people believe that humanity will react quickly and decisively to combat climate change once there is a “burning platform” – i.e. once the effects of climate change start to become evident and impact people’s daily lives. But then shouldn’t the summer of 2012 qualify? Extreme heat, rising food prices, monetary losses for farmers, power outages and the like are surely more than minor inconveniences. On top of these effects, there is a prominent scientist, once a denier, now calling for action to mitigate climate change. What more will it take for more people to take climate change seriously?