Science and TechClimate Change


Research Shows Climate Changes That Only Humans Could Cause

Researchers say in 2016, human activity caused extreme heat events that wouldn't have happened otherwise.
Posted at 4:54 PM, Dec 15, 2017

A new report from the American Meteorological Society finds in 2016, Earth saw the first extreme weather events explicitly due to human-driven climate change.

Those events were all heat-related: Researchers measured climbing average global temperatures, deadly heat waves in Asia and unusually warm ocean water, which contributed to widespread coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef.

Scientists said the only reason we're seeing these changes is because of greenhouse gases we've added to the atmosphere. A natural climate simply wouldn't get this extreme.

But there is good news. These findings don't represent a point of no return. Of the 27 relevant studies from 2016, only some showed that humans were directly responsible for climate shifts.

But researchers have identified a trend toward more extreme weather as the planet warms up. We've seen more billion-dollar disasters in recent years, and some research already shows climate change contributed to Hurricane Harvey's severe rainfall.