If our chief scientist Dr. Steven C. Amstrup had his way, every news report on the latest weather disaster would end with these words:
"Events like these will continue to increase in number and severity as the world continues to warm."
Greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere act like a blanket that keeps the earth warm. This protective blanket helps make our planet habitable.
But over the past 200 years, humans have greatly increased the level of GHGs in the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels like oil and coal. This is like throwing on a second blanket, causing temperatures to rise.
Other factors such as deforestation have added to the problem.
Trees soak up carbon dioxide—one of the greenhouse gases—from the air. Fewer trees, especially in the tropics, means less CO2 is removed from the atmosphere.
Warming leads to more warming as feedback loops start to contribute.
Over 97% of climate scientists agree that human activities are causing the current warming and related climate disruption.
The laws of physics dictate that the world will grow warmer and warmer as greenhouse gas concentrations rise. There's no uncertainty about this: scientists have understood the correlation for more than a hundred years. Venus is a perfect example of a planet, swaddled thickly in greenhouse gases, that's too hot.
Humans are not exempt from the effects of climate change.
Natural fluctuations in the climate system will continue with global warming, but the baseline will climb higher and higher.
This means that scientists can't confidently predict, for example, the first year it will be too hot to grow wheat in Kansas or the first summer the Arctic will be ice-free. These events are certain to occur, however, unless we reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
And once we cross those thresholds, it is bad news not only for polar bears but also for countless other species, including humans.