C'mon, let's wake up to the reality of climate change

Climate change is happening now and we are all feeling the effects. Earlier this month, the American Association of Advancement of Science reminded us that “climate change is happening here and now.”

We are now witnessing how it is changing our world: The past winter was the eighth-warmest on record. For 348 consecutive months — 29 years — global temperatures have been above average.

The latest IPCC report finds that impacts from climate change are “widespread and consequential” and they are being felt on every continent and in our oceans. The world last year experienced 41 weather-related disasters that caused damages totaling at least $1 billion. Over the past decade, the western United States experienced seven times more large-scale wildfires than it did in the 1970s. Climate change has made it much more likely that we will suffer severe droughts like the one that recently swept across Texas and my home state of New Mexico.

Finally, without action, things will get a lot worse. As climate impacts mount, they will bring more damage to our economy and communities. Even 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) of global temperature rise could cut yields of crops like wheat, rice and corn, driving up food prices. Unless greenhouse gases are reined in, many more people will be at risk from devastating flooding, similar to what residents faced in Boulder, Colorado, last year. Overall, economic losses from climate change will cause a significant blow to the global economy, even at the lower end of climate projections.