7 Signs Climate Change Is Absolutely Real

by Eliza Castile
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Despite the overwhelming evidence that Mother Earth is having a hot flash and it's all thanks to human activity, convincing a denier that climate change is real is easier said than done. Currently, the United States is led by a man who once attributed global warming to Chinese efforts to "make U.S. manufacturing noncompetitive," and whether or not he still believes it is a hoax, he's already begun rolling back many of Barack Obama's climate policies. With the country's highest office occupied by someone whose actions show he prioritizes the economy over the environment, why should everyday citizens believe that climate change is a problem worth worrying about?

The answer, of course, is because it's real, and it's going to affect all of us sooner or later. What's more, judging from the ever-accelerating rate at which the Earth is warming, we're probably looking at "sooner," rather than "later." Fortunately, many acknowledge the importance of fighting climate change. In 2014, more than 300,000 people gathered in New York City to advocate for protecting the environment, and three years later, the People's Climate March will take place once again on April 29. On the event's website, organizers emphasize the role politics play in protecting our home planet. "In the context of the Trump Administration’s climate change denying and a Congress controlled by the right-wing it is clear we all must both protect the gains made in recent years," reads the Peoples Climate Platform.

In the end, the best way to explain climate change to someone is through facts. Whether they choose to acknowledge the evidence is up to them, but in order to make that decision, they have to be presented with information in the first place. Here are seven indisputable signs climate change is real.


Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Has Spiked

According to NASA, scientists are able to track levels of greenhouse gases (named for their ability to trap heat in the atmosphere) like carbon dioxide by analyzing air bubbles trapped in ice. Before the industrial revolution, levels of the gas hovered around 280 parts per million (ppm), but since then, they've spiked — and they haven't stopped since. In 2013, atmospheric carbon dioxide reached 400 ppm, and in early April, they were measured at 410 ppm.

So why should we care? It's widely agreed-upon that carbon dioxide is the primary culprit behind global warming.


Global Temperature Rise

Scientists have tracked a global rise in temperature since 1880, reaching an increase of nearly one degree Celsius as of 2016. According to NASA, two-thirds of this increase has happened since the '70s. It might not seem like much, but consider that this is the average rise in temperature for Earth. It takes a vast amount of heat to warm the planet that much; to put it in perspective, the Little Ice Age was only about one degree Celsius cooler than our climate today. By the way, 2016 was the warmest year on record.


Ice Sheets Are Melting

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Perhaps unsurprisingly given the rise in temperature, measurements have shown that polar ice sheets are melting at a rapid pace. On top of containing huge amounts of frozen water, ice caps influence weather and climate — which is why it's alarming that they appear to be melting at an accelerated rate.


Sea Levels Are Rising

When ice caps melt, all that water has to go somewhere. Recently, researchers have tracked a rise in sea levels around the world; in 2014, the ocean was 2.6 inches above the '93 average. Furthermore, projections struggle to keep up with the tide — as sea ice continues to melt, researchers continue to up their estimates of how far the ocean will rise.


Extreme Weather Is Increasing

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West Coast residents might be experiencing the effects of climate change at this very moment. Over the past several decades, extreme weather events like droughts and hurricanes have been increasing, and according to mounting evidence, it's the result of human-induced climate change. In March, a new study suggested that the rise in global temperature stalls large-scale wind patterns across the world, leaving entire swaths of land under the same weather conditions far longer than usual. A dry period can become a drought, and stormy seasons can turn into floods.


The Great Barrier Reef Is Dying

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If you always dreamed of visiting the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world's greatest natural wonders, your chance has been lost. According to researchers, the majority of the reef is now dead or dying as the result of mass coral bleaching. This is one of the effects of ocean acidification — the steady decrease in seawater pH as it absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Good old greenhouse gases strike again.


Glaciers Are Retreating

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The polar ice caps aren't the only places where frozen water is melting. Glaciers are incredibly sensitive to climate changes, and they've begun retreating in many areas of the world. In fact, Alaska's glaciers are losing an estimated 75 billion tons of ice annually.

I'll leave you with a word of advice: If you daydream about seeing these gigantic ice formations for yourself, do it now, before Earth's glaciers go the way of the Great Barrier Reef.