Although the social, economic, and biodiversity impacts of climate change are already upon us, most people don’t realize it—and the societal response is still lagging far behind the problem as a result.
Based on a review of more than 100 recent research papers, Solomon Hsiang of the Global Policy Lab at the University of California, Berkeley concludes that climate change “is already a major force in human affairs,” Climate News Network reports. Correspondent Tim Radford cites alarming data from two studies published in the journal Science, including a 48% reduction in U.S. maize yields due to past temperature increases, an 11% increase in conflict in sub-Saharan Africa driven by warmer conditions, and the prospect that future warming will depress global economic growth by 0.3% per year.
But “so much attention is focused on the future effects of climate change that hardships imposed by the climate today, which are often just as large, are ignored,” Hsiang said. “If we solve these problems today, we’ll benefit everyone, both in this generation and the next.”
In a single edition last week, the Washington Post’s energy and environment newsletter carried stories on:
• Lessons to be learned about sea level rise from the placement of two- to five-million-year-old fossil samples in Antarctica
• The prospect that atmospheric warming will speed up as the Earth absorbs less carbon
• Analysis indicating that Greenland is losing more ice—20 billion tons per year more—than scientists previously believed
• Evidence that past megadroughts in California have lasted hundreds of years.