Top 10 Things Climate Change Is Making Worse Right Now


Written by Rebecca Leber, Ellie Sandmeyer

The onslaught of extreme weather and record temperatures this year have had an impact on people globally, directly through drought and temperature, and more indirectly impacting food prices and public transportation.

Here are 10 impacts we’re seeing right now that climate change is very likely worsening, in some cases playing a major role:

Rising Food Prices
Over half of the Continental U.S. is now facing severe drought–the worst in fifty years. As a result of extreme temperatures and little rain, corn production suffers although analysts predicted record production at the start of the year. In coming months, record-high food prices will continue to rise, affecting thousands of supermarket products. See also “Story of the Year: Warming-Driven Drought and Extreme Weather Emerge as Key Threat to Global Food Security.”


Top photo: H.L.I.T./flickr; second photo: DMahendra/flickr

Goodbye Glaciers, Sea Ice
This week, an iceberg twice the size of Manhattan tore itself off of one of the largest glaciers in North Greenland, following another break of comparable size in 2010. Scientists say that such dramatic change is unprecedented, and report that “the Arctic had the largest sea ice loss on record for June.” [ClimateProgress]

Photo: Alistair Knock/flickr

A recent landslide on an Alaskan glacier was massive enough to register as a 3.4-magnitude earthquake, even recorded in Canada. “We are seeing an increase in rock slides in mountain areas throughout the world because of permafrost degradation,” a scientist said. [Huffington Post]

Photo: crestedcrazy/flickr

Massive Dust Storms
In addition to dangerous wildfires and drought, the current heat wave is helping to create massive dust storms in Arizona. These walls of dust and strong wind can be thousands of feet high, destroying property, setting of a chain of further environmental damage and killing an average of five people per year. [New York Times]

Photo: DabaYu/flickr

Toxic Algae Pollute Drinking Supply, Lakes: Spurred by warmer winters that prevent seasonal a die-off, Lake Zurich in Switzerland is seeing an increase in a toxic species of algae known as Burgandy blood algae. “Research on Lake Zurich in Switzerland reveals that Burgundy blood algae, a toxic cyanobacteria species, has become more dense in the last 40 years as warm winters prevent seasonal die-off.” [CBS News]

Photo: lovelydead/flickr

$1.5 Billion Hail Damage: In a striking example of current dramatically unpredictable weather patterns, some cities now experiencing record-breaking temperature highs are also dealing with the after-effects of extreme hail damage. Estimates suggest that total damage in places like Dallas, St. Louis and Norfolk, Nebraska could exceed $1.5 billion. [Inside Climate News]

Photo: great deku tree/flickr

Wildfire Causes $450 Million Damage In Colorado
States like Colorado and New Mexico have experienced their worst wildfire season on record, and the damage totaled an estimated $450 million in Colorado alone. However, there are additional costs of the fire. “Water quality, for example, is being compromised up to 100 miles from burn sites,” and air quality has been damaged, even indoors. [Washington Post]

AP Photo/Ed Andrieski

Greater Terrors For Mountain Climbers: “Sharper seasonal variations of ice and snow and temperature are being repeated all across the world from the Himalayas to the Andes, which scientists say are driven by a higher level of energy in the atmosphere from global warming.” Veteran climbers “say today’s conditions are combining to create a volatile highball of risk.” [NY Times]

Photo: Australian Alps/flickr

More Drilling In The Arctic, Taxpayers Pay For Risks: Ironically, oil companies are capitalizing on ice melt in the Arctic caused by global warming. “Royal Dutch Shell has spent $4.5 billion since 2005 preparing to explore for oil off Alaska’s north coast in the Arctic. U.S. taxpayers may end up paying almost as much to supervise future operations in the region.” [Bloomberg]

Photo: ArcticReady/flickr

Extreme temperatures stress the power grid, and Con Edison recently took action to lower power voltage, known as a “brown out” in NYC, to prevent mass black outs. Of course, millions suffered from blackouts during brutal heat after a rare, heat-fueled derecho impacted the Washington area. [Reuters]

Photo: waldopepper/flickr

This post was originally published by Climate Progress.



Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

most of these are "duh" factor examples. thanks though

Alexandra Rodda
Alexandra Rodda5 years ago

This is just a small part of what global warming is doing to the world now and that is a small part of what it will in the future.

Mark Donners
Mark Donner5 years ago

They forgot to mention the mass extinctions, stronger hurricanes and tornados and sea level rise inundating islands and coasts, not to mention the global forests clearcut and billions of tons of plastic and lethal toxins they dump yearly to finish off the oceans

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener5 years ago

#8 is just ridiculous. I rather see mentioned the increase in climate change diseases!

Georgia A.
Georgia a5 years ago

And another thing. Any oil company that ventures into the arctic to explore for oil should be ashamed of themselves and no one should purchase their product. Any spill in that area will be extremely detrimental, both to the animals and the environment. They cannot clean it up. I'll repeat. They cannot clean it up. And the fisheries that are venturing into the area to fish, we should not eat the fish. It's a blatant example of now being able to venture where they could not before. This area should be a "NO VENTURE ZONE" now and forever. One area of this poor world need to remain pristine and this is the one. Let us shame them by standing firm and letting their products sit unused on the shelves.

Elle B.
Elle B5 years ago

Of course there would be climate changes on earth with or without the human species. That is a given that goes without saying. That does not negate nor offset any of the widespread and now systematic global damage and devastation to the earth's biosphere, ecologies, habitats and inhabitants caused entirely by members of the human species. The ensuing effects are irreversible. . .all humans [and those in the same bio-form] can do now is what we were supposed to be doing all along. . . let Nature lead the way and align completely.. .humans are guests given a precious gift . . .period. . .

Every wise person and people from all walks of life throughout the ages has understood the simple truth that is nature -- those who don't are the problem . . .

"Such is the audacity of man, that he hath learned to counterfeit Nature, yea, and is so bold as to challenge her in her work." ―Pliny the Elder, The Natural History, A.D. 77

"The insufferable arrogance of human beings to think that Nature was made solely for their benefit, as if it was conceivable that the sun had been set afire merely to ripen men's apples and head their cabbages." ―Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac, États et empires de la lune, 1656

“The question is whether any civilization can wage relentless war on life without destroying itself, and without losing the right to be called civilized.” ― Rachel Carson

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human s

Debi C.
Deborah C5 years ago

That's terrible. How much more has to happen before people will wake up and do something about it???

Georgia A.
Georgia a5 years ago

JACarlton A: I do have children and I'm telling them now to amass every penny they can as they're going to need it. It's a sorry world we're handing off to them and although I feel the need to apologize for it, I did the best I could. I never used bottled water, didn't litter, recycled everything possible, was stingy with my heat, gas, etc. I had my own garden, etc., preached to everyone around me until they yelled at me to shut up. And SKYLAR M: If it's not our fault, why is there now soil at the ice caps that is bare of snow for the FIRST time since man walked on the planet? We have been using every resource like there was no tomorrow and now tomorrow is here. Sorry kids, I tried.

Skylar M.
Skylar M.5 years ago

We give ourselves way too much credit for being the cause of global warming. Are there things we could do better to protect the Earth? Unquestionably YES! I know there are many areas to improve on when it comes to taking care of the environment. I am no "tree hugger" but I strongly believe in things like protecting the rain forests. The point is that the climate and Earth have always changed and varied from hot and cold periods. It has happened over and over throughout Earth history. Global warming may be happening very slowly but to blame humanity is just ignorant. By no means am I saying we are innocent, but I just read an article that pointed out that the recent drought killing crops is our fault... Am I the only one that remembers the unbelievably wet, cool, couple of years we just had? They pointed out this is the worst drought some parts of the country have had in 50 years. I am confused… Back 50 years ago, was that global warming too? Perhaps the other droughts throughout history are because of dumb humans messing up the Earth too…

Duane B.
.5 years ago

Human beings have been very poor stewards of Planet Earth!