Updated: Jan 23
In the wake of climate change, the countries of the world scramble to find a way to tackle what is arguably humanity’s greatest threat.
In the past few decades, the global climate has changed for the worse. Its effects vary from place to place. Catastrophic floods in South Asia, extreme droughts in the American Southwest, heat waves across Europe, and Arctic conditions reaching sunny states like Texas, have all occurred within the last couple of years. Many people fear that such disasters will only get worse with time. These events have particularly worried the youth, with climate activists like Greta Thunberg warning, "People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction."
In February 2021, Texas experienced an extreme cold front, as the state spent Valentine’s Day at almost 20 to 30 degrees below normal temperature, breaking records that were set in the late 19th century. Texas’s infrastructure and population were not prepared for such frigid conditions, leading to the power grid failing across the state, leaving Texans at risk of freezing to death, and unfortunately led to 250 people perishing from the cold temperature.
The opposite occurred in Europe over the summer of 2022. Extreme heat waves raged throughout the continent, breaking records in various countries, with areas of Portugal being the hottest, reaching a whopping 116 degrees Fahrenheit. Tens of thousands of deaths over the summer have been connected to the heat, predominately affecting those with heart disease and diabetes.
For the past 22 years, the American Southwest has been in an extreme drought, with certain areas having temperatures 2 degrees Fahrenheit above average. This is particularly dangerous, as this region of America is already arid. In fact, this drought has been the worst in more than a millennium. The drought has made vegetation more dry and flammable, leading to an increase in wildfires.
In 2020, California had its worst fire season ever. The dried brush from decades of drought combined with sweltering heat had caused huge brushfires to ignite across the state, setting four percent of the state, 4 million acres, ablaze. The August Complex wildfire, the largest fire California has ever seen, burned 1 million acres by itself. 33 people died from these fires, and over 10,000 buildings were destroyed.
In the summer and early fall of 2022, heavy rains set on by climate change caused massive flooding across the country of Pakistan. The floods led to nearly 2,000 deaths, millions of people displaced, and billions of dollars of damages. These floods are the worst that Pakistan has ever seen. In addition, the same heavy rains have caused damage throughout South Asia, adding hundreds more deaths overall in the region.
Hurricanes have also grown in intensity and destructiveness over the years. This fall, Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc on the state of Florida in what was one of the deadliest hurricanes in Florida’s history. What began as a tropical wave off the coast of Africa in mid-September made landfall near the end of September as a category four hurricane. Combined with increased rainfall, the storm took around 150 lives and cost 50 billion dollars in damages, making it the worst hurricane to strike the US since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
With all these disasters, it’s easy to lose hope; however, nations around the world have been making an effort to discuss how to prevent climate change from getting worse, such as in early November 2022, when Egypt hosted the United Nations Climate Change Conference, the 27th of its kind.