As a warming Earth simmered into worrisome new territory this week, scientists said the unofficial records being set for average planetary temperature were a clear sign of how pollutants released by humans are warming their environment. But the heat is also just one way the planet is telling us something is gravely wrong, they said.

“Heat sets the pace of our climate in so many ways … it’s never just the heat,” said Kim Cobb, a climate scientist at Brown University.

Dying coral reefs, more intense Nor’easters and the wildfire smoke that has choked much of North America this summer are among the many other signals of climate distress.

“The increasing heating of our planet caused by fossil fuel use is not unexpected, but it is dangerous for us humans and for the ecosystems we depend on. We need to stop it, fast,” said Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Some other recent “firsts” and events that indicate climate change has entered uncharted territory include ocean warming, wildfires, changing weather and a loss of sea ice.

Last week, SMDP asked shoppers along the Promenade about climate change, their concern over the environment and what more they’d like to done about the crisis.

The overwhelming consensus was that people are indeed very disturbed by the latest environmental catastrophes and they are making changes to their lifestyle. Out of the 21 surveyed, 13 stated that they were very concerned, four were mildly concerned and only four had little to no regard to the topic.

Samohi AP Environmental Science teacher, Ingo Gaida, expressed his worry for climate change and explained what he does as an individual to remedy the situation.

“I’m extremely concerned. I have solar in my house, that’s one thing. I try to get energy efficient appliances when possible. I’ve got a water heater that is not a traditional kind. I run my gas only when it needs to turn on. I turn off my hot water. In terms of climate change, I try to drive as little as possible” said Gaida.

Many of the personal decisions included reducing waste by composting, recycling, and utilizing public transport.

While most said they had adapted their lifestyle to try to benefit the environment, a handful believe that changes at the individual level will not rectify the problem; only changes in large companies and producers can. One Boston resident, Tracey Rosen expresses her feelings that there is not much that one can do.

“I don’t think changes at the individual level are all that meaningful. It has to be policy and large corporations. Especially in America, we consume a lot more than elsewhere. I think the city can work with corporations. Someplace like Trader Joes should not be selling single use plastic. The more that the city tries to get individual residents to change, I think that’s money thrown away and I think it’s really trying to get corporations to change. I think that’s where change really happens. Again, because I don’t think it’s at the individual level, whether someone buys plastic or not, that is not the issue, the issue is that they are even selling it in the first place.”

Ann Macgowan, a tourist from Ireland felt America is not doing enough to combat climate change in contrast to Ireland where recycling and alternative transit are more common.

“Here the bicycle lanes are good on the beach, but on the streets there are no cycle lanes. People are more aware of when to use the car. We (in Ireland) ask the question, do we need to use the car? Can we take public transport? It seems to be harder to use public transport here than in Europe.”

She said experience with public transit in America was unreliable and that children should be taught from an early age to think about car use as a last resort.

Los Angeles resident Richard Oto said climate solutions should be accessible for people of all income

“I work in construction, so to make a living, I have to burn fossil fuels to get there because there is not adequate transport around where we live. It’s hard when there are not a lot of easy ways to do it. Having cheaper and more affordable electric cars would be nice too,” he said. “I think also there needs to be a collective way that we as a society can make it easier for people of all income spectrums to be able to do it, whether its tax incentives or whatever they do to help us all change it. We are on a dying planet and they are prioritizing making money than actually what we need to do to survive. It would be nice if they found ways to help us all save the mothership.”

UK tourist John Smyth was among the small number of individuals who didn’t care about the problem.

“It’s a load of crap. No, I’m not even slightly concerned. There are other scientists putting out the real information, it’s just the false information that’s hitting mainstream media. I don’t believe any of it,” said Smyth.

Maggie Marks

SMDP Intern

Isabella O’Malley of the Associated Press contributed to this report.