From Laudato Si, Pope Francis makes it clear:
A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) agrees with our Holy Father. If you visit climate.nasa.gov/evidence, you will find the following:
- The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.12 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere and other human activities. Most of the warming occurred in the past 40 years, with the seven most recent years being the warmest. The years 2016 and 2020 are tied for the warmest year on record.
- The ocean has absorbed much of this increased heat, with the top 100 meters (about 328 feet) of ocean showing warming of more than 0.6 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969.
- Greenland lost an average of 279 billion tons of ice per year between 1993 and 2019, while Antarctica lost about 148 billion tons of ice per year.
- Glaciers are retreating almost everywhere around the world — including in the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alaska, and Africa.
- Satellite observations reveal that the amount of spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has decreased over the past five decades and the snow is melting earlier.
- Global sea level rose about 8 inches in the last century. The rate in the last two decades, however, is nearly double that of the last century and accelerating slightly every year.
- Both the extent and thickness of Arctic sea ice has declined rapidly over the last several decades.
- The number of record high temperature events in the United States has been increasing, while the number of record low temperature events has been decreasing, since 1950. The U.S. has also witnessed increasing numbers of intense rainfall events.
- Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by about 30%. This increase is the result of humans emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and hence more being absorbed into the ocean.
Now that we know, let’s advocate for action! Working together, we can help take care of our common home.