The planet is experiencing weather changes that are unlike anything in living memory. Tropical regions are seeing tropical storms with much more frequency, and intensity, in the past five years. Areas that normally stay warm and temperate year-round are being buffeted by snow in the months before they get hammered by a tropical storm.
As the backdrop of all of this weather-based chaos, the polar ice caps have never been in more trouble. Climate scientists agree that the polar ice caps are melting at an alarming rate due largely to a weakening of the jet stream that allows the polar vortex to drift southward rather than staying over the north pole. This phenomenon, in turn, compounds the issues of melting ice caps.
Most climate scientists believe that these weather pattern changes result from a global phenomenon, one brought on primarily by human activity. Greenhouse gasses, which trap heat and warm up the atmosphere, have become much more common in recent years. The number of personal vehicles, airliners, factories, and farms producing greenhouse gasses is all contributing to an escalating issue.
These greenhouse gasses, in turn, lead to a gradual increase in the average temperature of the planet. While it might only be a few degrees at a time, even little increases in temperature can add up. Small differences can lead to instability in the jet stream, allowing the polar vortex to drift and cause unseasonably cold weather in regions like Europe, Northern China, and the American Midwest.
As for stopping this pattern shift before it’s too late, there are several actions humans can undertake to minimize the damage to the climate. The most straightforward is to cut back on emissions from industrial factories and farms. These are the largest contributors to the issue. However, it can be problematic to organize this on an international level: many countries with the highest emissions are developing, and they resent developed countries demanding they change their production methods.
Another issue is one of simple economics: many governments are hesitant to take any actions that will be expensive in the long term. However, it is worth pointing out that the cleanup and rebuilding from natural disasters is much more costly than even the most robust climate change preparedness plans.