As anyone who’s experienced the weather lately knows, the situation is already bad. The world had its hottest week on record at the start of the month, according to preliminary data, with heatwaves still smashing local records across the Northern Hemisphere. And that’s just one way climate change is bringing on dangerous new extremes.
Today, the planet is about 1.1 degrees Celsius hotter than it was before the Industrial Revolution, thanks to carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels. It’s what’s driving more intense heatwaves, wildfires, storms, and sea level rise. That’s why world leaders agreed, as part of the landmark Paris agreement, to keep the planet from warming much more than it already has. Every fraction of a degree comes with more severe consequences.