Earlier this month, more than 300 people in South Africa were killed as record rainfall washed away buildings and infrastructure in the Kwa-Zulu Natal province. A day earlier, dozens were killed in the Philippines after tropical storm Megi spurred landslides and floods. The world is rapidly shifting — and the impact of human-caused climate change is increasingly evident. “We’re in a very different place now from where we were even just a couple decades ago,” atmospheric physicist Alex Hall, director of the UCLA Center of Climate Science, told CBS News.
Hall, who in the 1990s was among the teams that initially predicted effects of global warming, extreme heat, Arctic ice loss and sea level rise, said those predictions once “felt a little bit like abstractions.” Today, they’re observed almost daily. And without urgent action, these kinds of events — and others — will be more intense and frequent, Hall said, and change the scope of daily life for everyone, forever.
“You can’t put the genie back in the bottle” Today’s situation on Earth is decades in the making. Ecology researcher and professor Dan Blustein told CBS News that it takes years to start seeing the effects of climate change, and once those effects are seen, they’re essentially “burned in.” “You can’t put the genie back in the bottle,” he said. “The devil with climate change is, we can stop burning carbon tomorrow, all carbon tomorrow, and we would still have burning effects from the carbon that’s in the atmosphere.” Today’s extreme events are only a glimpse of what’s to come. “We are seeing already big increases in large storms. Hurricane Harvey hit Houston and Hurricane Sandy in New York,” said Hall, the atmospheric physicist. “…That’s what we’ve been predicting with a warmer world and we will have more of those types of impacts.”
This is why experts say carbon emissions must be addres …