5 Record Setting Heat
Science-minded types started to accurately measure and record temperatures in the 19th century, so we have a pretty long record of annual temperatures by which we can gauge warming and cooling trends. And the trends point squarely at the former, the warming. Last year, 2012, was the hottest year on record in many regions of the world, including the continental United States. Globally, when average temperatures are measured, most of the hottest years on record can be found via the simple act of counting backward over the past decade.
4 Melting Ice
Ice is melting all over the world. From the ice sheets of Greenland to the huge calving glaciers of Antarctica, we can track dramatic reductions in the size of glaciers the world over. An even more stark display of global warming is on display at the very top of our world these days, as the arctic ice melts away each and every summer. Whereas once the northernmost reaches of the globe were permanently encased in ice, now the top of the planet is free enough of ice to allow for regular shipping lanes and resource exploration—just what the region needs to help it recover!
3 Dying Coral Reefs
Around the globe, huge swaths of once vibrant, lively, multicolored coral reefs are now veritable graveyards, devoid of life and even of color. The rise in sea temperatures precipitated by global warming at large has led to massive die offs in countless coral reefs, leaving behind bleached white, lifeless husks where once millions of polyps crafted the structures upon which thousands of species of organisms thrived.
2 Disrupted Plant and Animal Life
From plants blooming months earlier than they used to all the way to animal mating behaviors falling out of their standard cycles, climate change is affecting both the planet itself and the flora and faunae that lives here. While ocean life is hit the hardest by climate change, even terrestrial organisms are suffering drastically. Mammals’ hibernation schedules are shifting, birds are laying eggs too early based on unseasonable heat waves and scores of species must compete for ever shrinking sources of food and water.
From droughts to tornadoes to fires to hurricanes, recent years have seen a radical uptick in both the frequency and the ferocity of natural disasters. Hurricanes and tornadoes in particular are affected by climate change, as they draw much of their power from the warmer temperatures found in water near the surface of the oceans. As this warmer water evaporates and rises into the atmosphere more quickly, it leads to weather patterns both larger and more savage. And while some areas are getting inundated with water, others see almost none due to the disturbance of once-reliable ocean and air currents, leading to droughts such as we have not seen since the Dust Bowl era and fires the likes of which we have never seen before at all.