Climate Change Left a Devastating Wake in 2020

Washington, D.C. — Extreme weather and record-breaking storms were an unrelenting presence during 2020, causing billions in damages, burning millions of acres, and killing hundreds, according to a compilation released today by Climate Power.

The data draws a painful picture of the harm of 2020. At least 91 people died in the United States due to global-warming-fueled hurricanes, while another 207 deaths in Maricopa County, AZ alone were directly linked to extreme heat. Across the west, at least 50 deaths were linked to wildfires. Wildfires decimated 9,539,554 acres in Western states and resulted in some of the worst air quality ever for the country and studies found that the smoke from the climate change-fueled fires may alter the DNA of children.

According to a statistical analysis done by NCEI scientists, 2020 is very likely to rank among the three-warmest years on record. September 2020 was the hottest September on the globe in 141 years of record keeping. The same is true for NovemberApril and May 2020 both tied previous temperature records. The estimated cost of damages to rebuild following this year’s devastating weather events topped $46 billion by September.

“2020 was a stark warning of the devastation in our futures if we do not act boldly to address the climate crisis. The relentless storms, climate fires, and heat impacted nearly every person living in this country, with the disproportionate harm forced on frontline communities that have been exposed to legacy pollution and racist climate policies for decades,”  said Lori Lodes, executive director of Climate Power 2020. “If we do not act, the heat, fires, and storms of 2020 will be our country’s new normal — the consequences of which will be catastrophic.”

Below is a snapshot of the climate crisis and its toll on communities this year. You can see a full month-by-month list of climate events from 2020 HERE.