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Feature

Feature

Extreme weather and dire climate reports are intensifying the mental health effects of global warming: depression and resignation about the future.

The Delta Fire rages in Shasta-Trinity National Forest in California on Sept. 6.Noah Berger / AP file

When the U.N. released its latest climate report in October, it warned that without “unprecedented” action, catastrophic conditions could arrive by 2040.

Read more: 'Climate grief': The growing emotional toll of climate change

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Spurred by a likely El Niño as well as climate change, the planet is expected to heat up, even more, scientists warn.

An El Niño event is very likely underway, amping up extreme weather already made worse by climate change and increasing the odds that 2019 will be the hottest year in recorded human history, scientists warn.

There is an 80 percent chance a full-fledged El Niño has already begun and will last until at least the end of February 2019, according to the Climate Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The impacts of El Niño have been more severe in recent years because of global warming, and these impacts will be worse as temperatures continue to rise, according to a recent study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

“With an El Niño, it’s entirely possible 2019 will be the hottest year ever,” said co-author Samantha Stevenson, a climate scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The top four hottest years have been among the last four, 2015-2018, driven by increased emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2)—which have also reached record levels, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The Earth’s climate has been warmer than the 20th Century average over the last 406 consecutive months. That means no one under the age of 32 has ever experienced a cooler-than-average month.
 
“Every fraction of a degree of warming makes a difference to human health and access to food and fresh water, to the extinction of animals and plants, to the survival of coral reefs and marine life,’’ said WMO Deputy Secretary-General Elena Manaenkova.

Read more: 2019 may be the hottest year yet—here's why

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Stephanie Dickson, founder of Green Is The New Black Asia

When Stephanie Dickson landed her dream job straight out of college, she thought she had it made.

She had fantasized her whole life about working in fashion and, suddenly, she had a job that allowed her to do that, organizing some of the industry's biggest events across Asia.

But then one day the veil fell, and Dickson realized the job she had dreamed of was not what it seemed.

"I got my dream job," Dickson told CNBC Make It. "But about three and a half years in, I just became really disconnected with the work I was doing."

It was then 2015, and climate change was gaining increasing attention on the international stage. To Dickson's surprise, she found there was one industry lurking at the center of the issue: Her own. 

In fact, alongside commonly cited culprits like the energy, transport and agriculture sectors, the fashion industry is today considered one of the world's largest polluters.

"I felt completely blindsided," said Dickson, whose disillusionment led her to start watching documentaries and reading up on the issue. "I'd been working in this industry and I had no idea what actually was going on."

Read more: Meet the 30-year-old who quit her 'dream job' to help boost sustainability across Asia

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The mesmerizing animals appear to be thriving even as coral reefs suffer.

Feather stars, those 200-million-year-old creatures that look like something straight from the pages of a Dr. Seuss book, maybe the next kings of the reef. The plant-like animals seem to be thriving, even as other reef dwellers, like corals, are dying from warmer waters linked to climate change.

Angela Stevenson of the University of British Columbia has studied crinoids, a group of marine creatures including feather stars and sea lilies, for over a decade. She’s currently stationed in Negros Oriental, Philippines, where her team is observing and experimenting with the abundant feather star communities that live on the reefs offshore. (See mesmerizing video of a feather star swimming.)

This feather star is one of the eight species being studied by Angela Stevenson and her team in Negros Oriental, Philippines. PHOTOGRAPH BY ANGELA STEVENSON

Read more: In a World of Warming Seas, Feather Stars Might be Winners

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