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July 2021 | Is climate change causing extreme weather?

This changeletter brought to you by: The Mitty by Take My Face Off

This month's Changeletter topic is weather. I realized, thanks to climate experts I follow on Twitter, that we don't do a good job connecting weather and climate.

We experience weather every day, and it's time to connect the dots. The big takeaway: we are in a climate emergency, and these heat waves and droughts are not standalone events. (Fun, right?)

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Headshot of Ash Borkar (a woman with glasses and a cardigan)
"The info is always timely, actionable, and never stale." - Aishwarya Borkar, Change.org
Headshot of Meghan Mehta speaking at Google with a microphone in her hand
"Making social change always felt so overwhelming until I started reading this newsletter." - Meghan Mehta, Google

Read | The drought is fake + 4 weather facts


Let's start by understanding some key facts and figures about weather vs. climate.

Left side: WEATHER (tells you what to wear each day, pictures of clothes). Right side: CLIMATE (tells you what types of clothes to have in your closet. Picture of entire closet with clothes, umbrella, etc.)

  1. Weather vs. climate: how do we talk about it? Okay so the easy answer is show people NASA's climate time machine. It's jarring, and helps clarify what we mean when we say "climate is what you expect; weather is what you get".
  2. There is no drought in California. I thought this editorial post from the LA times was really valuable in connecting the dots between weather and climate. "Droughts are deviations from the norm. What we have now is no deviation." Read more here.
  3. In Canada, sea creatures are cooking in their shells. A marine biologist "roughly estimates that a total of one billion animals died in the Salish Sea off the coast of Vancouver during the heat wave". The weather is hot, but the climate is consistently getting hotter. Our dying mussel friends will also likely disrupt the food chain in the oceans as temperatures continue to rise. 😭 Read more here.
  4. Weather and climate change = public health emergency. Eric Holthaus (meteorologist + my Twitter friend) points out that climate isn't just a science issue. It's a human rights issue. Farmworkers and racially segregated neighborhoods are bearing the brunt of extreme weather events, which will only continue to rise with human-induced climate change. Read more here.

Anyway if there's ONE thing I would like you to do today, pick a family member who doesn't quite "get it" on climate change. Not someone who doesn't believe in it, but someone who doesn't understand how bad it is. Show them NASA's climate time machine.

Listen | ok but how is climate change changing the weather?

Today's LISTEN module, a 6-min video, was easy to understand and effective in helping me communicate the weather x climate relationship to others.

This 2018 video talks about extreme weather events, how a changing climate causes what we're going through, and what we can do. Let's get started!

  • 🔥 Weather is getting more extreme. The size of typhoons and hurricanes have been getting bigger in the last 15 years. Wildfires and droughts are getting worse.

  • 🌡️ But is the rise in extreme weather caused by a changing climate? Yes lol

  • 📈 It's a TREND, not a one-off. We can't derive any meaningful info from just one extreme weather event, but once we look at the big picture, it's pretty clear. Here's 2 examples of the whole correlation/causation thing between weather and climate. Our industrial activities have led to more greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide being trapped in the atmosphere, which means...


    - Example # 1: heavier rainfall — Increase in greenhouse gas emissions → increase in global temperatures over the last 50 years → warmer air → more water vapor → more rain → heavier rainfall in an average storm

    - Example #2: worse wildfires — Increase in greenhouse gas emissions → increase in global temperatures over the last 50 years → warmer surface temperatures → warmer oceans → larger storms → hotter summers → bigger droughts → worse wildfires

ACT | Delicious, easy, and beefless decisions

Before we dive into our ACT module, SOAPBOX FEST 2021 IS LIVE! Get your ticket here.

Soapbox Project community members get it for free, so if you prefer to join our fun, actionable community, join here.

Soapbox Fest 2021 lineup banner - all details are in the Eventbrite link

Okay, now for your weather actions.

  1. Link climate change into your weather conversations. Talking about the weather is our most classic small talk example, and it's time to put it to work. You can take a free climate adaptation course, get tips on how to talk to kids about climate change, and use this How Much Hotter is your Hometown than When You Were Born quiz for some easy peasy conversation starters.

  2. Get prepared. Wherever in the world you are, it's likely that you'll be affected by wildfire smoke this year. My neighbor made this wildfire starter pack doc with links on what to buy. Your health matters, and it's often hard to tell how bad the smoke situation is if there's not a fire burning near you. (Hint: it's bad, yikes on bikes)

  3. Work with homeless shelters and mutual aid organizations to pass out N95 masks. Homeless folks and communities of color (generally Black and Indigenous communities) are disproportionately affected by extreme weather events. Find a mutual aid org near you here.

  4. Sign up for a justice-oriented weather report. The weather affects everyone, and it’s something that brings us all together. Currently is a weather service — a community of people sharing resources and delivering justice, hope, connection, safety, and resilience in a world in urgent need of systemic action. They operate in cities around the world and they're adding new ones all the time.

  5. Support Grist's wildfire coverage. In my opinion, Grist is the best climate reporting newsroom. They're matching all contributions until August 15.

  6. Get accountable! If you already know what you need to do to fight climate change (fly less, drive less, cut out meat, switch your investments, don't go to space with money you made off of exploiting your workers, etc.), it's time to DO it. You can join the Soapbox Project membership community for only $5/mo to make friends, attend free events with badass speakers, get discounts on sustainable product swaps, and more. Join here.

Reflect | Coming Soon

Fight climate change in a way that works for you.

💌 Thinking about sustainability can be overwhelming after a busy workday, so we're here to help. Join over 4,000 other busy people and subscribe to Changeletter, a bite-sized action plan that'll take you 3 minutes or less to read every week.
Take action
Headshot of Ash Borkar (a woman with glasses and a cardigan)
"The info is always timely, actionable, and never stale." - Aishwarya Borkar, Change.org
Headshot of Meghan Mehta speaking at Google with a microphone in her hand
"Making social change always felt so overwhelming until I started reading this newsletter." - Meghan Mehta, Google