The Climate Crisis is Heating Up

High temps in 2021 are fueling the climate crisis

According to NOAA, last summer was the hottest for the contiguous US in the 126 years since records started. Hundreds of weather stations around the world experienced record-breaking temperatures and in June, Europe experienced its warmest month in 171 years.

Friederike Otto, a senior lecturer in climate science at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, considers heat waves to be "one of the deadliest types of extreme events" because people "die quietly in their poorly insulated houses."

Guardian, January 7, 2022.

BBC: Past seven years hottest on record, EU satellite data shows, January 10, 2022.

Why This Matters

This excessive heat is just one of many extreme weather events seen across the globe in increasing frequency due to climate change. In 2021 alone, 20 extreme weather events occurred in the US that cost over $1 billion dollars each in damages, totaling $145 billion dollars and killing 688 people. Earlier this month, Colorado experienced its most destructive fire in history due to extreme drought conditions that saw thousands of people lose their homes in the midst of a pandemic. Unfortunately, these unprecedented events are only predicted to grow in scale and frequency as the climate continues to warm.

NOAA: U.S. 2021 Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters.

The Economist: See what three degrees of global warming looks like, October 30, 2021.

Environmental Injustice

While the climate crisis affects all living organisms on the planet, it unequally impacts people of color and low-income communities. Disadvantaged communities are more vulnerable to climate disasters due to a lack of healthcare, insurance, and adequate infrastructure. Between 2000 and 2010, nearly half of all heat-related deaths in New York City were among African Americans.

"As the climate continues to deteriorate, the first people to go are going to be the poor and the disadvantaged, and that's so wrong," said Esmé Comfort, the sister of Tony Evans, a man who died in the Pacific Northwest heatwave last year.

NowThis: How Air Pollution Exposes America's Racial Disparities, July 25, 2020.