It could hardly be clearer that the world is already in the throes of a climate catastrophe. That means it’s high time for the U.S. to declare a national climate emergency to help focus us all on the disaster at hand.

By John J. Berger, Tom Dispatch

While April and May are usually the hottest months in many countries in Southeast Asia, hundreds of millions of people are now suffering in South Asia from an exceptionally intense heat wave that has killed hundreds. One expert has already called it the most extreme heat event in history. Record-breaking temperatures above 122º F were reported in the Indian capital of New Delhi and temperatures sizzled to an unheard of 127º F  in parts of India and Pakistan.

record heat thermometer and city bathed in warm sun light

Nor was the blazing heat limited to Asia. Heat waves of exceptional severity and duration are now occurring simultaneously in many areas of the world. Mexico and parts of the United States, notably Miami and Phoenix, have recently been in the grip of intense heat events. In southern Mexico, endangered howler monkeys in several states have been falling dead from trees in their tropical forests due to heat stroke and dehydration. Below-average rainfall throughout Mexico has led to water shortages in Mexico City and elsewhere. In some places, birds and bats, not to speak of humans, are also dying from the heat.

All of this is no coincidence. The hot and heavy hand of climate change is now upon us. Last year was the hottest on Earth in 125,000 years, and the concentration of heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere was the highest in four million years and still climbing at an ever-increasing rate. Meanwhile, global sea surface temperatures also reached a peak, causing severe massive coral bleaching in all three major ocean basins.

The World Bank is projecting that, by 2050, there will be more than 200 million climate refugees, 20 times the 10 million refugees that have already destabilized Europe. Climate change is also putting an increasingly heavy burden on our social safety net, which could ultimately cause social order to begin to break down, generating chaos.

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