RIGHT NOW, we’re in a car, hanging on for dear life as we hurtle around a mountain bend. If we don’t hit the brakes soon, we’re going to lose control, crash through the guardrail, and careen into the abyss. We’ve been fully warned about the danger ahead, but now here we are, testing our fate.
Already, the effects of climate change are clear and significant. Last year was the hottest in recorded history, and it’s all but certain that 2015 will set a new record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Wildfires in the West this year have consumed a massive eight million acres of land and counting, while superstorms like Katrina and Sandy are becoming stronger and more frequent. But that’s just the beginning. By the end of the century, the planet will become unrecognizable. The western United States will face Dust Bowl-like conditions that will persist for more than 30 years. As the oceans rise, island nations like the Maldives could disappear completely, while millions of people in Miami, New York, and Bangladesh will be forced from their homes. Looking further out, over the next several hundred years, the melting ice caps could cause sea levels to surge up to 200 feet, high enough to sink a ten-story building.
Read the rest on The New Republic.