It happens, and hardly anyone notices while it does. Summers from many years ago have been predictably warm – now, one year after the other, they are intense and scorching. Disastrous hurricanes and wildfires that displace thousands were once an occurrence every few years. Now, every hurricane season has those in vulnerable places thinking it might be their last. The profound effects of climate change can be seen in a timeline as short as one human life. And it’s only looking back that makes one notice it happening.
In the news, climate change is often sensationalized as a giant hoax. Those that deny it claim that climate change is a grand phenomenon, almost certainly not real because it can not be perceived by the average person. Now, the changing climate is harder and harder to deny, and it’s not because of one major disaster. It’s oceans warming at record speeds, on a global scale. It’s the physical shrinking of the planet’s ice caps. And it’s something as simple as an “unseasonably warm” summer, year after year. Soon, that will just be “summer.”
The image of polar bears on shrinking sea ice is a commonly used allusion to the current climate disaster. The reality is that it’s not just one or two species affected by one type of long-term climate change effect. Worldwide changes in weather subtly affect all creatures, forcing them to alter their habits in order to survive. If one species goes extinct, that invokes a domino effect on hundreds of other, and so on. But domino effects take time to reveal the true extent of the damage. The inter-species relationships on this planet that took millions of years to establish could be substantially, but subtly, undone in the slow climate crisis.
At this point, the evidence is overwhelming. Around the world, researchers are publishing new pieces of evidence every day, graphs, and data showing climate change’s slow crawl into every corner of human life. And now, this so-called unseen force is finally something to behold. The slow evolution of global temperatures is finally something humans are starting to reckon with daily. Just as the stacks of evidence grow taller every day, so too does the influence of climate change.