The floods, droughts, wildfires and extreme heat sweeping the globe are offering a dose of the climate future that scientists have warned about for decades — and all the ways the world is not ready.
From a nearly depleted federal disaster fund to state insurance markets that are faltering under the weight of multiple catastrophes, extreme weather is testing the ability of even a rich nation like the United States to withstand the warming that has arrived faster than many scientists expected. So are the torrential rains flooding Northeastern states like Vermont, the shriveling Colorado River that has prompted a multistate brawl over dividing the water, the record temperatures that have raised worries about the stability of the electric grid, and the Canadian wildfire smoke that has repeatedly blanketed D.C. and other parts of the U.S. in recent weeks.
Still ahead is the August-through-September peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, at a time when ocean temperatures — a crucial fuel source for the storms — are already at levels that European scientists called “off the charts.”
Even worse threats to life, property and nature are coming, scientists say.
“If you don’t like what you’re seeing today, stick around — it’s going to get worse before it gets better,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a climate scientist at Princeton University.
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