Climate Change
October 25, 2021
Will world governments act in time?

Weather-related disasters continued to batter the United States and other countries this year, with heat and rainfall setting records across the globe. In August, the leading international body studying climate change issued its strongest warning yet that the world is running out of time to avoid even more catastrophic droughts, storms, heat waves, wildfires and floods, even as new research confirms that emissions of carbon dioxide and other planet-warming gases from the burning of fossil fuels are to blame. President Biden is acting on several fronts to shift the country away from those fuels — coal, oil and natural gas — and is prodding other countries to do the same ahead of a critical international climate conference beginning Oct. 31, but a rift within his own party has stalled his climate agenda in Congress.

Photo of a flood damaged guesthouse in Laach, Western Germany, on July 23, 2021. A man views damage to a guesthouse in the Ahr region of western Germany, some of the devastation caused by historically heavy rains and floods in five European countries in mid-July that killed more than 200 people. Experts said climate change made the floods up to nine times more likely than they would be without global warming. (AFP/Getty Images/Christof Stache)

After warning for years that countries are moving too slowly to reduce carbon emissions in response to global warming, the world’s top climate scientists sounded their loudest alarm yet in August, saying climate change is accelerating so fast that certain consequences already are unavoidable.

Even if nations move immediately to significantly cut emissions of planet-warming “greenhouse” gas emissions, global temperatures will climb to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels within 20 years, according to the Aug. 9 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), made up of hundreds of scientists convened by the United Nations. 1