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Opinion
Noah Smith

Earth Is Sizzling and Needs All the Help It Can Get

Inaction isn’t an option as global warming accelerates.

Carbon in the air.

Carbon in the air.

Photographer: Mario Tama/Getty Images South America

As Greenland's glaciers melt, Siberia's permafrost turns to slush, the Amazon burns and the Arctic sizzles, this summer of record heat should serve as a reminder of the imminence of climate change. A warming world isn’t decades away -- it’s here now, as the carbon emissions that accelerate warming keep rising.

It’s critical for the U.S. to reduce its own carbon emissions to help combat this threat. A number of Democratic politicians have released sweeping plans to do this. But decarbonizing the U.S. economy won't be enough to prevent catastrophic warming, for two reasons. First of all, U.S. emissions are already dwarfed by the rest of the globe, and the disparity is increasing as developing nations catch up with rich-world living standards: