This is why fighting climate change is so urgent

The global warming that’s changing our climate is already having dire consequences.

In just the past few decades:

What’s causing these harmful changes?

It’s mainly us.

We humans are the ones who burn fossil fuels and chop down forests, causing average temperatures to rise worldwide. That global warming trend is increasingly disrupting our climate — the average weather over many years.

Earth has already warmed by about 1 degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, since the 19th century, before industry started to boom.

While we experience the effects, we’re on our way toward 1.5 degrees C (2.7 F) by as early as 2030.

Why a half-degree more is such a big deal

flooded cotton farm

Climate change is breeding storms with heavier rainfall, flooding farms — such as this one, which grows cotton.

A warmer world — even by a half-degree Celsius — has more evaporation, leading to more water in the atmosphere. Such changing conditions put our agriculture, health, water supply and more at risk.

Picture a North Carolina cotton farm that’s been around since 1960, with global average temperatures rising by roughly half a degree since it grew its first crop.

The increased evaporation and additional moisture to the atmosphere has led to 30% more intense rain during heavy downpours in that part of the U.S.

Then a hurricane like 2018’s Florence — already strengthened by warmer oceans and higher seas — dumps this excess rainfall on the farm. The crops get more flooded and damaged than they did half a century ago.

It's how you go from half-degree of warming to economic hardship.

There’s still time to act

Whether it’s a shift of 1.5 degrees or 2 degrees, these warming levels aren’t magic thresholds. Every rise in warming is worse for the planet than the last.

But they're not inevitable.

It's not too late to slow the pace of climate change as long as we act today. With your help, we can attack this challenge.

Act when it matters most

Every day more than 60 people sign up for news and alerts, to find out when their support helps most. Will you join them? (Read our privacy policy.)

Donate to support this work