Six scary facts about climate change
Global warming is breaking new records every year, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. Our planet is warmer now than it has been in 800,000 years. And we’re using up more of the world’s resources than it can regenerate. Here are six scary facts about the effects of climate change.
1. Climate change could be irreversible by 2030
According to a report conducted by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), urgent action is needed to avoid the catastrophic effects of global warming.
Without change, the world’s coral reefs could be completely eradicated, and we could see an increase in widespread flooding, extreme heat, drought and poverty.
2. Greenhouse gas levels are at an all-time high
There are more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere than ever before, and that’s causing the earth’s temperature to rise.
The burning of fossil fuels, emissions from transport, and the environmental impact of intensive farming have all contributed to high levels of CO2 in our atmosphere. And scientists say this is the fastest and largest increase in CO2 the world has ever seen.
3. More than 1 million species face extinction
While the expected rate of species extinction is usually around 5 species a year, we’re currently losing up to 10,000 times the normal rate – this means that dozens of species go extinct every single day.
This loss of biodiversity reduces water quality and food security, and also results in a loss of natural pest control as predators like frogs and spiders become extinct.
4. Climate change is creating a refugee crisis
As global temperatures increase, millions of people are fleeing their homes to avoid the impacts of droughts and extreme storms. And these numbers are set to rise. The International Organisation on Migration estimates that up to 200 million people could be displaced by climate change by 2050.
Around 50% of all carbon emissions are emitted by the richest 10% of the world’s population. Yet global warming is making climate change refugees of the world’s poorest.
5. Our oceans are dying
Our planet is only as healthy as its oceans. And the UN has warned that marine life faces irreparable damage from the millions of tonnes of plastic waste that ends up in the oceans every year.
Half of the world’s coral reefs have died in the last 30 years, and two thirds of the Great Barrier Reef have been damaged by coral bleaching – this happens when the sea temperature is too high.
Whales, dolphins, porpoises and sea lions all suffer from bycatch from global fishing. In fact, hundreds of thousands of marine mammals are accidentally caught or critically injured by fishing gear every year.
6. We use more of the earth's resources than it can renew
Earth Overshoot Day is the date when we’ve used up more from nature than the planet can possibly renew in the entire year – and ever year, that date comes earlier.
The world’s superpowers, including the UK and US, use more than double the amount of resources they’re able to produce. If we carry on using the earth’s resources at our current rate of consumption, we’d need 1.7 planets to support the demand on the earth’s ecosystems.
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