The climate crisis is the defining issue of our time. Since the first major warnings about the impact of carbon emissions on the global climate in the 1970s, the stream of disquieting evidence has become a torrent.
This is no longer a crisis-in-waiting, it’s unfolding before our eyes. 2020 tied with 2016 as the hottest year, in the hottest decade since records began. Hellish wildfires spanned the globe, killing or displacing nearly 3 billion animals in Australia, and in California, a new word - gigafire - was needed to describe unprecedented blazes.
The UK experienced record downpours with severe flooding in Cumbria, Wales, and Yorkshire. Intense cyclones left swathes of the Indian subcontinent under water. Meteorologists ran out of names for Atlantic hurricanes as powerful systems dumped rain across the Americas and Caribbean and battered coastlines with ferocious winds, in the most active season on record.
Regardless, greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise overall. Even the dramatic fall in carbon emissions due to the slowdown of industry and transport caused by the pandemic has had little effect.
Dramatic changes are needed, and this global overhaul needs to happen in just a few short decades.
If the challenges are enormous, then so are the opportunities to build back from Covid with a greener, more resilient, more equitable world. From renewables and electric vehicles, to insect-based proteins and faux meats, the ramping up of tech and scientific solutions will likely bring a dizzying pace of change.
This is why The Independent is launching a new, free climate newsletter.
Each week our team will provide a concise rundown on the most urgent climate stories from around the world including the latest in science, and geopolitics, along with lifestyle suggestions for playing your part.