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  • Writer's pictureGregory Andrews

Is anyone listening? Earth's vital signs are going haywire

While Australians make #TaylorSwift and #Ticketek trend on #TikTok, climate scientists' alarm calls on Earth's vital signs are going largely unheard. Records on climate change indicators are being smashed daily across the globe. And the extreme events are not occurring in isolation. They're catalysing and feeding off each other. Earth's climate system is in deep trouble and perhaps already reaching dangerous and irreversible tipping points.

The North Atlantic Ocean is experiencing extraordinary levels of heat, far surpassing anything observed. Shores off the UK and Ireland are experiencing an unheard of marine heatwave of up to 5 degrees above normal. Thousands of dead fish are washing up onto shores in the United States and the US's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is forecasting a 90% chance that the North Atlantic heatwave will persist until November.

Global ocean temperatures are breaking all-time records, reaching levels that were statistically implausible before human-induced warming. In the Pacific, the Sea of Japan is 4 degrees warmer than average. El Niño is supercharging warming tropical waters and adding to persisting heat from the North Central Pacific Ocean's warm blob. Heat in the Indian Ocean is stalling South Asia's monsoon and putting food security at risk for hundreds of millions of people.

Canada is facing its worst wildfire season on record due to climate change-induced drying and increased fire intensity. The smoke is now reaching Portugal. Emissions from the wildfires are rivalling Canada's annual emissions. The US and Mexico are also grappling with a relentless early-season heatwave which has broken numerous all-time records.

Global sea ice levels are deviating significantly from normal. Antarctic sea ice growth, which should be robust and growing during winter, is experiencing unprecedented difficulties. Departures from normal levels are at their highest, and limited or no expected growth for the rest of the season is deeply concerning. At the other pole, Greenland faces alarming developments. Unusually warm temperatures and downsloping winds are accelerating surface snow and ice melt. An impending heat dome will amplify melting.

Earth's vital signs are sending distress signals but no-one seems to be listening. The serious and escalating nature of these events demands immediate attention and action. Australia and the world must wake up to the climate crisis.

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