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7 Shocking Climate Change Facts from 2021 (and what you can do to help)

We won’t mince words: We are in a climate emergency. Our planet is experiencing more frequent and intense wildfires, rising sea temperatures, melting sea ice, ocean acidification, habitat loss, drought, extreme flooding and natural disasters.

Just this year, we’ve seen extreme climate-related disasters and record-breaking temperatures that we could have never thought possible just a few years ago.

Today, we wanted to share a few of these shocking climate facts from 2021 — and offer a few ways you can help combat climate change, because we have a real opportunity to act now to help slow this crisis, before it’s too late.

Extreme heat could become the new normal

No matter where you live, it’s hot outside, and it sure feels hotter than it has in years past. Experts believe these heat waves will essentially become a “new normal” and a fact of life in the coming years and decades. 

Here are just a few headlines from this year:

  • AP: Heat wave grips US West amid fear of a new, hotter normal
  • Yahoo: “The climate scientists have said this is coming.” Extreme heat new normal as 110-degree temperatures blanket region
  • Washington Post: Climate change has gotten deadly. It will get worse.
  • CBS News: NOAA’s “new normal” climate report is anything but normal
  • MSNBC: Extreme Weather Is ‘New Normal’ Thanks To Decades Of Climate Inaction

While these headlines may sound alarmist, some climate scientists believe the heat waves of today will become the normal summer temperatures in just a few years, making this summer actually feel cool.

Pacific Northwest US: Record temperatures higher than Florida or Texas

During the so-called “heat dome” that settled over parts of the Pacific Northwest, blanketing Oregon, Washington and parts of western Canada in extreme heat, temperatures hit once-in-a-millenium record highs. 

For example, Seattle hit a steamy 108 degrees F, nearly 10 degrees hotter than the all-time record in Tampa, Florida. In Portland, Oregon, the recent 116 degree heat dome record was 3 degrees higher than the hottest Dallas, Texas has ever been.

How could this have happened? According to experts, “An exceptional weather pattern and climate change have cooked up a heat wave unmatched in regional intensity.”

Canada: Small British Columbia town hits record 121 degrees

Western Canada wasn’t spared from the worst of June’s heat dome. In the small village of Lytton, roughly 60 miles northeast of Vancouver, the temperature hit a scorching 121 degrees. 

According to the Washington Post, this heat record — which left scientists speechless — is hotter than any recorded temperature in Europe, South America, or in the contiguous 48 US states outside the Desert Southwest, and the highest temperature observed above 45 degrees latitude.

Arctic sea ice hits record low for July

Earlier this July, existing Arctic sea ice fell to a record low for this time of year, since satellite records have been kept starting in 1979. New studies found “sea ice in coastal areas may be thinning at up to twice the pace previously thought,” that “Arctic ice may be in worse trouble than thought,” and that climate change is playing a role in the record melt.

Germany & Belgium: More than 150 missing, 200 killed from climate-induced flooding

Parts of western Germany and Belgium were left in ruins earlier this month when massive rain and flooding destroyed entire villages and left others looking like a “battlefield.” At least 180 in Germany were killed, and another 31 in Belgium. With upcoming elections in Germany, climate change will become a front-and-center issue in the campaign season.

Largest US wildfire in 2021 has burned 400,000+ acres already

Experts continue to warn that wildfires, especially on the West Coast and also across the country, will continue to worsen as climate change progresses. The Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon is no exception. It has burned over 400,000 acres, and as of this writing, the fire is less than 50% contained. Warm weather and dry conditions are making things difficult for fire crews to get the wildfire under control.

Across the United States, wildfires have burned roughly 1.5 million acres this year so far. 

China: One year’s worth of rain in 72 hours

As of July 26, nearly 70 people have been reported killed due to flooding and extreme weather-related events in Zhengzhou, China and central Henan province after one year’s worth of rain fell during a 72-hour period. The massive rain and flooding opened sinkholes in the ground, forced people to abandon their cars, and left people trapped in their flooded homes and in subway and highway tunnels.

While one isolated weather event can’t necessarily be attributed to climate change, this event reflects a “global trend of extreme weather” across the planet.

How you can help combat climate change

We’ll be honest, these statistics can seem pretty frightening, but experts believe we still have time to slow these devastating effects before it’s too late. Here are some ways you can help:

  1. For starters, get involved with the work of our climate justice partners and grantees, including Sunrise Movement, 350.org, League of Conservation Voters, Earthjustice, and InsideClimate News. You can see our full list of climate partners at CREDODonations.com.
  2. If you’re not already a member, consider joining CREDO Mobile. Just by using our mobile service, you will help us fund climate justice philanthropy to all of our amazing climate grantees. Since 1985, we’ve donated more than $19 million to organizations fighting for climate justice and the environment.
  3. Join CREDO Energy, which gives you simple, straightforward access to 100% clean electricity for your home. By joining, you will help us donate $150,000 each month to the progressive organizations you care about and make sustainable change possible. Check availability in your area and join today!