There's no denying it: a report by NASA earlier this year confirmed that 2011 was one of the warmest on record (the ninth warmest since 1880). Even more troublesome is that 10 of the warmest 11 years ever have occurred since the year 2000. The full report has in-depth data about what this trend means. Simply put, the earth is getting hotter and something needs to be done. Quickly. While we may not feel the effects of this immediately, it should still be a cause for concern.
In fact, words and charts may not do the recent warming trend justice. Watch this short video to see how the planet has been warming:
The issue isn't just that the planet is getting hotter. It's how this change is changing other systems, forcing them (and us) to find a new normal. For example, this article at Climate Progress details how a warmer planet is also a wetter planet. In fact, last year was the 2nd wettest year on record, leading to flooding and other water-related disasters. Likewise, a warmer planet means we'll see more extreme weather, including hurricanes, tsunamis, and drought.
In other words, a warm planet spells trouble all around, not just because things will feel hotter, but because the warmer the planet, the more unpredictable the weather gets.
This news also caused No Impact Man to reflect as to how things are going in our world. He wonders if this news will wake people up and force all of us to question whether or not our pursuit of progress is worth the effects that pursuit is having on our planet. As we've mentioned before, we'd like to see "progress" defined not in steel and concrete, but in a return to nature.
Surveys and stats like these can have an overwhelming effect. After all, if something is measuring the total heat of an entire planet, we can feel that the solutions therein are too large for any of us to carry out. Of course, that's not the case, but breaking down our psychological barriers is an important first step in beginning to reverse the trends we're seeing.
It begins, of course, with each of us doing our part to live a zero-waste (or close to it) existence. Then, we need to focus on reducing that which we consume as much as possible. Finally, we need to support larger processes and movements that are looking to reverse damage caused over the last 100 years.
This problem wasn't created overnight, but we can get to work today in order to fix it.