On Tuesday, Sept. 7, President Joe Biden visited the streets of New York City in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, and after checking on the state of destroyed and severely damaged homes, declared that climate change had become "everyone's crisis."
Biden warned it is time for the United States to take the "red alert" seriously or face even worse losses of life and property.
Also in his statement, the president addressed a number of the extreme weather events of late to hit the U.S., from wildfires in the West to hurricane wreckage in the South and Northeast. Biden said the frequency "is making believers out of climate change skeptics," but years of warnings from scientists, economists and others were ignored, shortening the time for action.
"For decades, scientists have warned about extreme weather. That it would be more extreme, and climate change is here, and now we are living it. We have no more time," said the president.
The climate crisis is a fact
According to a new report presented at the end of August by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), around 11.000 disasters caused by weather events, water hazards and extreme weather events were documented between 1970 and 2019. The disasters were responsible for 2 million deaths and $3.6 trillion in losses.
The WMO also said that of the 77 climate disasters documented between 2015 and 2017, 62 were influenced by human behavior.
Given this, WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas warned that these numbers will continue to rise if the world continues to warm.
"That means more heat waves, droughts and forest fires like we have seen recently in Europe and North America. We have more water vapor in the atmosphere, which is exacerbating extreme rainfall and deadly floods," Taalas said in the report cited by NPR.
Aside from heavy rains, hurricanes and storms, severe cold snaps are also a consequence of global warming, which the UN reported in August is accelerating thanks to human activities.
Recent waves of low temperatures in the United States and other parts of the northern hemisphere could be a paradoxical consequence of the warming of the Arctic climate, according to a study presented in the journal Nature. However, it is not yet clear whether this represents a long-term trend that will persist as the world warms.
"The conventional wisdom is that while global warming means more heat waves, it also means fewer cold waves and less snowfall," said to Nature MIT climate scientist Judah Cohen, who is also lead author of the study. "But that's not entirely true. There are also mechanisms by which climate change can contribute to more severe winter weather."