Since the industrial era, human activities have pumped more and more CO2 into the Earth’s atmosphere, intensifying the greenhouse effect that is putting more energy into climate systems and raising the temperature of our planet.

Our oceans absorb this heat and release it into the atmosphere, with severe effects on our climate. The oceans and seas act as a giant heat-sink, absorbing warmth and redistributing that heat in the form of weather systems that support plants and animals across the Earth. It’s a delicate balance that has led to our continued existence; but what happens if temperatures continue to rise?

Climate change is leading to stronger and more intense hurricanes, hotter land temperatures and a loss of species diversity. As ice caps and glaciers melt, we are seeing rising sea levels and more intense flooding, putting coastal populations at risk. Currently, about 40% of humanity live within 100km of the coast. We live on river plains, in cities, and near water because water is essential for transport, crops, livestock, and life itself. This magnifies the climate threat.

Inland, we see droughts and heat waves, longer wildfire seasons, changes in precipitation patterns and longer frost-free growing seasons. In our atmosphere, water evaporation due to increased heat gives rise to severe storms, hurricane events and increased rainfall. This leads to flooding, destruction, and the disruption of centuries old cycles of growth and harvest that many communities depend on.

Climate change leads to domino effects. The loss of viable farm land spurs human displacement and migration, and an upheaval of the life we know. The resources that feed us are at risk as crops fail, oceans become more acidic, air pollution increases, and vast areas of land become uninhabitable. According to the UN, every year 13 million people die due to environmental factors, and 23 million more are displaced.

Global climate change is not a future problem. The effects of human-caused global warming are happening now, and are irreversible for many people alive today, and will worsen as long as humans add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. According to scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) global temperatures will continue to rise for many decades, meaning we must take bold steps to improve resilience to climate effects and accelerate our adaptation in ways that work for everyone.