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The Five Signs of Climate Change

The Five Signs of Climate Change

Climate change is fueling extremism, raising tempers along with temperatures, and is a symptom of a larger problem. There are five signs.

By Daniel Gross

Climate science is in a dire strait. Global temperature readings are rising, ice levels are shrinking, and sea levels are expanding. These facts provide clear evidence that human activities are altering the climate, and that something must be done. On September 11, 2005, in the city of New York, the nation’s top scientists gathered to consider the risks of climate change and the human and institutional responses required to prevent catastrophic outcomes. One speaker urged us to act, telling us that “[o]ur grandchildren will laugh at the scientists who could not see climate change for what it is.”

This was a moment of national leadership, but the message was not universal. It found no echo in the White House, the state department or the United Nations. This was not the way the world was going to be and it would take concerted global effort to overcome the challenges of climate change.

Today the world and its leadership institutions are in a worse predicament. Climate change is not a problem that can be managed for the next century, or even the next decade. It is a crisis that is now unfolding, and in its wake lie massive potential impacts on the lives of people around the world. This is a moment of crisis and one that would never have arisen were we not faced with the reality of climate change.

It is therefore essential to clarify where this is all headed, and where we stand. There are five clear signs.

We have not yet reached the tipping point.

As of 2013, there were almost five times as many greenhouse gas emissions as there were in 2005, although the total world’s greenhouse gas emissions as a proportion of primary energy use were stable. So the current rate of global emissions is about twice the rates that were at that point, and the emissions are increasing more rapidly.

There has been some progress on the emissions front:

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