Climate Change
August 1, 2022
Will some regions soon become uninhabitable?

Record-setting heat waves scorched the United States and other countries this spring and summer as planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions reached new highs and scientists at the United Nations warned that critical climate change goals are fast slipping out of reach. It is almost certain, they say, that global temperatures will at least temporarily rise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels, threatening to destroy virtually all of the world’s coral reefs and making many regions uninhabitable. But they and other experts also note important successes around the world in replacing fossil fuels — which emit greenhouse gases when burned — with renewable energy such as solar and wind power. In the United States, President Biden on July 28 claimed a major potential legislative victory in his ambitious bid to reduce carbon emissions, but a June 30 Supreme Court ruling sharply limited the administration’s ability to regulate such emissions. Biden also has struggled to balance climate priorities with the need to lower gasoline prices and help Europe deal with fuel shortages related to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Photo of a wildfire burning homes near Mount Penteli, Greece, on July 20, 2022. A wildfire spreads in the residential area of Drafi, near Athens, Greece, on July 20, one of several that raged across Europe this summer as temperatures reached record highs amid drought exacerbated by climate change. Searing temperatures had killed at least 1,500 people in Europe by July 20. (Getty Images/NurPhoto/Nicolas Koutsokostas)

Heat records were set around the globe this year, reinforcing new alarms from climate scientists that countries are fast running out of time to slow global warming and prevent many regions from becoming uninhabitable. 1

Every continent saw new temperature extremes in June, and the misery continued into July. More than 100 million Americans in 28 states sweltered through heat advisories and warnings on July 20, with Texas and Oklahoma reporting a record high of 115 degrees Fahrenheit. In eastern England, temperatures reached 104.5 degrees Fahrenheit on July 19, breaking a national record set just hours earlier. Searing temperatures across Europe had killed at least 1,500 people by July 20. 2