"This is what climate change looks like now."

Climate Monsters

Temperatures are soaring around the world, beating decades-old records and even venturing into unprecedented territory.

Devastating heat waves are gripping much of the northern hemisphere, a perfect storm of the return of El Niño piling onto already high temperatures caused by climate change.

And veteran climate experts are watching, horrified that their predictions from many years ago are turning into an overwhelming reality.

"We knew by the mid-1990s that lurking in the tails of our climate model projections were monsters," wrote Bill Hare, physicist and climate scientist and chief executive of Climate Analytics, in an opinion piece for The Guardian that compiles the thoughts of a number of climate experts. "Monstrous heatwaves, catastrophic extreme rainfall and floods, subcontinental-scale wildfires, rapid ice sheet collapse raising sea level meters within a century."

"But as today’s monstrous, deadly heatwaves overtake large parts of Asia, Europe, and North America with temperatures the likes of which we have never experienced," he added, "we find even 1.2 [degrees Celsius] of global warming isn’t safe."

Help Less

Other experts lamented that their repeated warnings over the decades have largely fallen on deaf ears.

"As the situation deteriorates, it makes me wonder how I can be most helpful at a time like this," wrote Joëlle Gergis, senior lecturer in climate science Fenner School of Environment and Society. "Do I keep trying to pursue my research career or devote even more of my time to warning the public?"

Matthew England, scientia professor at the University of New South Wales, wondered whether 2023 is "finally going to be the year when any doubts about the climate change crisis are blown away by a spate of costly climate extremes."

The answer is as obvious as ever: we need to act now.

"This is what climate change looks like now," Lesley Hughes, board member of the Climate Change Authority and an emeritus professor at Macquarie University, warned. "And this is what climate change looks like in the future, though it will likely continue to get worse."

"Now all the projected changes are happening, so I reflect on how much needless environmental damage and human suffering will result from the work of those politicians, business leaders and public figures who have prevented concerted action," Ian Lowe, emeritus professor in the School of Science at Griffith University wrote.

"History will judge them very harshly," he added.

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