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And this should not come as a surprise. Scientists have been warning for years that as the planet heats up, we will have to deal with more severe, more changeable, more unpredictable weather. The evidence is mounting that human-caused warming is pushing normal warming effects to extremes. Heatwaves have increased in duration and frequency. Some parts of Europe are now gripped by severe water shortages while other parts have suffered extreme precipitations causing floods and increased crop losses.
And although not every extreme weather event can be attributed to climate change, scientists are now much more confident about linking individual weather events to climate change. Take 2011's record warm November in the UK, the second hottest on record. Researchers say that it was at least 60 times more likely to happen because of climate change than because of natural variations in the earth's weather systems.
This summer continued the pattern. The retreat of sea ice in the Arctic smashed the previous record, with just half the ice present compared to when satellite measurement began in 1979. Or take another example:Greenland's July thaw, where satellite data showed that about 97% of the massive ice sheet surface covering the island was melting. "Was this real or was it due to a data error?" a Nasa scientist questioned. Unfortunately, the data was correct.
All this record-breaking news reveals that global climate breakdown is occurring more rapidly than most climate scientists had expected. Climate change is happening, and it exacerbates a whole range of other global problems, adding further instability in an already unstable world. More