World map with child

Earth has a fever. That’s the diagnosis of former University of Toledo professor Andy Jorgensen. And that fever needs urgent care.

Jorgensen: “So a parent who has a child with a fever of about 2 degrees Fahrenheit – you give some medicine.”

But many people do not understand that the biosphere is also very sensitive to small temperature increases.

Jorgensen: “When people talk about a one- or two- or three-degree change, it doesn’t seem like it’s a lot.”

That’s because they feel local temperatures change a lot more than a few degrees every day. But with climate change, it’s not about local weather.

Jorgensen: “We’re talking about thousands of sites around the world averaged over 365 days.”

And that global average temperature is projected to rise by up to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050.

Jorgensen: “When the earth changes, we are affected – whether it’s more mosquitoes causing illness, whether it’s more acid in the ocean, whether it’s drought in areas like California where we get one third of all of our fruits and vegetables.”

If we delay or do nothing, rising global temperatures will become more and more dangerous.

Jorgensen: “In 2100 the average of the projections where the temperature increase might be is 6 degrees Fahrenheit, and for a child, six degrees is life threatening.”

Reporting credit: Mark Knapp/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Image graphic: Created by David McCarthy.

Sara Peach

Sara Peach is the editor-in-chief of Yale Climate Connections. She is an environmental journalist whose work has appeared in National Geographic, Scientific American, Environmental Health News, Grist,...