Climate Change: 20 undeniable facts and figures

November 7, 2019 | Environment
Climate change: the Earth's temperature is rising and the sea levels too | Photo: Shutterstock

We all know there's no Planet B, and we still have time to reverse a potential catastrophe. These are the undeniable facts and figures about climate change.

Ninety-seven (97) percent of scientists agree that climate change is not a myth, fiction, or fake news - it is real and has been happening for some time now.

It is only a matter of comparing data. And the results reveal a global emergency.

Climate change is a consequence of the greenhouse effect.

Gasses in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), let the sun's light in but keep some of the heat from escaping.

As a result, the more gasses in the atmosphere, the more heat gets trapped, strengthening the greenhouse effect and increasing the planet's temperature.

Greenhouse emissions: gasses in the atmosphere are increasing the Earth's temperature | Photo: Shutterstock

The Consequences

Climate change has an immediate impact on four major variables:

a) Health: an increased amount of smog in urban areas causes asthma, heart disease, and lung cancer;

b) Food sources: water supplies are diminished, and growing crops become more difficult;

c) Weather: more intense major storms, floods, and heavy snowfall, and longer and more frequent droughts;

d) Oceans: ice sheets melt, sea level rises, and water becomes more acidic;

The oceans are the biggest victims of climate change - they regulate the Earth's temperature and provide 50 percent of the oxygen we breathe.

Global warming: human activity is responsible for greenhouse emissions and the rise of the Earth's temperature | Illustration: IPCC

Organizations such as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Met Office, Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have all confirmed the facts described above and below.

These are not political statements; these are not populist rhetorics by presidents, prime ministers, and monarchs.

These are unquestionable truths publicly revealed by meteorologists, oceanographers, academic researchers, and scientists in general.

They believe that it is extremely likely that humans are responsible for the observed warming since the mid-20th century.

The Paris Agreement is a global movement that aims to respond to the threats posed by climate change.

The goal of the signing countries is to keep a global temperature rise during the 21st century below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.

The United States is the second-largest contributor of greenhouse gases, after China. However, and under Donald Trump's administration, the country pulled out of the Paris Agreement.

Melting glaciers: a consequence of global warming | Photo: Shutterstock

The Shocking Truths

Take a look at the most impressive facts and figures about climate change:

1. The average global temperature on Earth increased by about 0.8 °C (1.4 °F) since 1880 - two-thirds of the warming occurred since 1975 at a rate of between 0.15 and 0.20 °C per decade;

2. According to WMO, 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years;

3. The ice sheets of both the Arctic and Antarctic are melting at increasingly higher rates;

4. Since 1994, the Earth lost on average 400 billion tons of its glaciers every year;

5. In the Arctic, winter temperatures have risen 3 °C since 1990;

6. The sea level has been rising consistently over the last decades - between 1900 and 2016, the sea level rose by 6.3-8.3 inches (16-21 centimeters);

7. By 2050, sea-level rise will affect the homes of 300 million people worldwide;

8. Ocean acidification is a growing concern and a result of the increase of concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere;

9. Since the late 18th-century, ocean surface acidification increased by 30 percent, putting the entire food web at risk;

10. The oceans' top 2,300 feet (701 meters) show warming of more than 0.4 °F since 1969;

11. The number of flooding events has an exponential rise since the 1960s;

12. While Earth's climate has fluctuated in the past, CO2 hasn't reached today's levels in hundreds of thousands of years;

13. In 2018, the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere set a new record high 407.4 parts per million (ppm);

14. Deforestation is responsible for 11 percent of all planetary greenhouse gas emissions caused by the human race;

15. The heat from human emissions is equivalent to 400,000 Hiroshima nuclear bombs exploding across the planet every single day;

16. Extreme weather events, floods, sea-level rise, heatwaves, and droughts affect 800 million people, i.e., 11 percent of the world's population;

17. The world loses one million hectares of coastal ecosystems every year - that's the equivalent of an area larger than New York City;

18. More than one million species are at risk of extinction by climate change;

19. In 2016, the Bramble Cay melomys became the first mammal being driven to extinction by climate change;

20. The United Nations' IPCC warned that we only have until 2030 to prevent the worst impacts of climate change;