Many scientists have made a connection between human activity and ever-rising global temperatures. The World Health Organization writes how over the last 50 years, higher amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has led to higher temperatures- which can lead to a host of dangerous situations for the global environment and human health.
In particular, the burning of fossil fuels is said to contribute to massive amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. These increased CO2 levels, along with other pollutants, are seen as one of the key determinants fueling climate change.
Some of the key metrics in tracking the global changing climate are the presence of drought, global mean sea levels, changing temperatures (including on the sea surface), and the amount of Arctic and Antarctic sea ice.
Keep reading for a list of some of the most staggering and interesting facts and statistics about climate change.
Global Temperatures Keep Breaking Records: The current century has some of the highest recorded temperatures in known history. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA said last year was the hottest since 1880. When the world gets hotter, it can fuel the proliferation of drought, typhoons, hurricanes, wildfires and general habitat change, and can affect the availability of food and water.
Climate Change Could Kill Millions By The Century’s End: A recent study says millions across India, Pakistan and Bangladesh could pass away by the end of the century due to the effects of projected extreme heat waves and humidity. Right now, it is estimated that almost 1/3 of the world is subject to lethal climate conditions for 20+ days each year.
Sea Ice & Glaciers Are Melting Rapidly: Glaciers across the world are in full retreat, from the Alps to the Himalayas, to the Arctic and Antarctic. Scientists said this year that arctic sea ice was again at a record low. Overall, Arctic sea ice coverage has been generally dwindling since 1979.
Some See a Refugee Crisis on the Horizon: The United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees has pointed out how climate change can be a ‘threat multiplier’ in parts of the world with conflict.
Global Air Pollution Could Be Very Deadly Soon: Higher temperatures usually expedite the process in which air pollutants like ozone are created. As a result, some believe climate change could affect global air pollution in a way that could kill thousands. Recent research estimates by 2030, 60,000 people could pass away due to detrimental air quality as a result of climate change.
Many People Are Divided About Climate Change: Public views about climate change and the research behind it often varies widely. Pew Research Center wrote in 2016 about how about half of Americans saw climate change as a result of human activity, while another half thought it was from natural causes, or that there was no evidence of warming.
**Climate Change Can Lead to Increased Disease & Sickness: According to the World Health Organization, higher temperatures can lead to increased levels of asthma, since aeroallergens are more prevalent in high heat. In addition, illnesses like diarrhea and malaria could be amplified due to climate change. **
Worse Flooding Is Expected Due to Climate Change: Since climate change contributes to rising sea levels, some believe massive population displacement could occur in the future, increasing the risk of conflict. About half of the global population lives within 60 kilometers of a shoreline. Increased flooding would take a toll on national economies, and overall affect the livelihoods of millions.
Many Americans are Skeptical about Climate Change: Pew Research wrote in 2016 about how many do not think climate scientists understand how to combat climate change, or that they even have a good understanding of climate change. They found how just about 39% of Americans have “a lot” of trust in information from climate scientists.
Opinions Can Hinge On Political Orientation: Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists suggest how conservatives have less of a concern about climate change while suggesting that liberals have more of a concern. The research found that people with more education and higher scores on science literacy tests had the most polarized beliefs.
The United States Emits Massive Amounts of Carbon Dioxide: With only around 4.4 percent of the Earth’s population, the US is the second largest contributor of Carbon Dioxide. According to the World Bank, the US emits 14.6 metric tons of CO2 per capita.
Climate Change is Killing Coral Reefs: In 2015, bleaching affected around 40% of the world’s reefs. When water temperatures get too high, bleaching occurs. The algae are kicked out from the coral tissue, turning the once colorful coral a stark white. It was reported in April how about 2/3 of the Great Barrier Reef has been damaged by bleaching.
Carbon Dioxide Levels Are Tracked in Hawaii: An observatory on Mauna Loa volcano has been keeping track of CO2 amounts since 1958.
Many Do Not See Climate Change as the Most Pressing Global Issue: Research across 17 nations from YouGov in late November found how climate change was third on the list of global concerns, behind poverty, hunger and thirst, and global terrorism. The share of concern for climate change was about 12.8%.
Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions Can Improve Health: Turning away from fossil fuel burning vehicles towards public transportation or bikes can improve the health of citizens while helping the environment. Fewer cars on the road could also slash air pollution rates and greatly decrease the rate of road-related injuries. Taking steps to counter climate change could also reduce the acidity of oceans, help quell the destruction of rain forests, and maintain a stable and healthy atmosphere.