Many news stories lately have included record heat, drought, and wildfires in the western U.S. and Canada (who hasn’t noticed the smoke smell, hazy skies, and air quality alerts) followed by stories of flooding in other parts of the country and world. These fires and floods are worsened by human-caused climate warming. 

Burning coal, oil, and natural gas releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere where it acts like a blanket, preventing heat from escaping into space. The added heat raises temperatures and speeds evaporation from water bodies, soils, and plants, increasing the severity of droughts and wildfires. This evaporated water – combined with warmer air’s ability to hold more moisture – contributes to torrential rains and flooding in other areas. Basically the water cycle is in overdrive.

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