When looking down on the Arctic from space and you can see some beautiful arch-like structures sculpted out of sea-ice. Yet due to a rapidly warming planet the average duration of these arches is decreasing by about a week every year. They used to last for 250-200 days and now they last for 150-100 days.
While the role of the climate crisis in Cyclone Idai is still not fully known, experts believe there are links to rising sea-surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean. “We are getting a much higher frequency of high-intensity storms,” says Jennifer Fitchett, associate professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Idai was followed by Kenneth, another category 4 cyclone that hit the border of Mozambique and Tanzania six weeks later. (Two severe tropical cyclones in one season is very unusual for the Mozambique Channel.)
Covid continues to cause severe economic distress, but natural disasters fueled by a warming planet also took their toll this year, causing record damage and displacing millions according to two new assessments of insurance claims in 2020.
Peatlands are ecosystems unlike any other. Perpetually saturated, their wetland soils are inhospitable to many plants and trees, yet they are rich in carbon.
But the world’s peatlands are under threat on multiple fronts. From a warming climate and rising sea levels through to land-use change and wildfires, disturbing peatland ecosystems risks releasing their long-held carbon into the atmosphere.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose a serious threat to the health and safety of Canadians across the country, but the impacts of a changing climate have not slowed either. Across the country this year, Canadians were impacted by another year of extreme weather events—from destructive summer hailstorms, thick smoky skies, to powerful tornadoes.
It’s not just your storage unit that’s packed to the gills. According to a new study, the mass of all our stuff—buildings, roads, cars, and everything else we manufacture—now exceeds the weight of all living things on the planet. And the amount of new material added every week equals the total weight of Earth’s nearly 8 billion people.
Covid-19 likely emerged from the wilds near southern China, then found residence in horseshoe bats before making the jump to humans. The virus, as of this writing, has infected 63 million people and caused 1.5 million deaths around the world. The global economic impact of the pandemic was estimated at $8 trillion to $16 trillion in July 2020 — it may be $16 trillion in the U.S. alone by the fourth quarter of 2021 (assuming vaccines are effective at controlling it by then). The amount of human suffering this tiny microbe has caused is incalculable: lost loved ones, vanished jobs, broken families, and lingering sickness from a virus that will eventually retreat but will never disappear.