Every day we see the effects of climate change, from massive wildfires, to floods, droughts, monster hurricanes, deadly tornados and rising sea levels. We can no longer deny and ignore what is directly in front of us and having damaging impacts on our lives, physically, emotionally, economically and in terms of our safety, national security and quality of life.
Climate change is not an issue we can put off for our children and our children’s children to solve. Scientists tell us the time we have to mitigate climate change before it reaches a tipping point is running out. In order to make a difference by influencing our friends, family and community leaders, as well as state and national elected representatives, we need to be armed with the facts. Following are some disturbing truths about how our planet is changing and what is causing it.
2. 2016 was the warmest year on record according to NASA and NOAA data. Global averages in 2016 were 1.78° F warmer than the mid-20th century average. Seventeen of the 18 warmest years recorded have occurred since 2000.
3. Eleven percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans are the result of deforestation – as compared to the emissions from all the cars and trucks on the planet.
4. The Amazon is a key component of the Earth’s climate system. It holds about a quarter as much carbon as the entire atmosphere and single-handedly absorbs about 5% of all the CO2 we emit each year. AND THE AMAZON IS BURNING RIGHT NOW.
5. Eleven percent of the world’s population is currently vulnerable to climate change impacts such as droughts, floods, heat waves, extreme weather events and sea-level rise.
6. Just 0.7% of the world’s forests are coastal mangroves, yet they store up to 10 times as much carbon per acre as tropical forests.
7. An area of coastal ecosystems larger than New York City is destroyed every year, removing an important buffer from extreme weather for coastal communities and releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
8. Conserving ecosystems is often more cost effective than human-made interventions. In the Maldives, building a sea wall for coastal protection costs about $2.2 billion. Even after 10 years of maintenance, it is still four times cheaper to preserve natural reefs.
9. Tropical forests are incredibly effective at storing carbon – providing at least 30% of action needed to prevent the worst climate change scenarios. Yet nature-based solutions only receive 2% of all climate funding.
10. As of 2019, 196 countries plus the European Union have signed the Paris Climate Agreement. Unfortunately the United States, the world’s second largest producer of carbon dioxide emissions, is no longer one of them. The #1 offender, China is still a member of the accord.
11. Scientists estimate that it would take approximately $140 billion per year worldwide, to make the changes humanity needs to adapt to a worming world. That is less than 0.1% of global GDP. As of 2018, the U.S. alone has spent $5.9 trillion on wars in the Middle East and Asia.
12. Using natural climate solutions like ending deforestation and restoring degraded forests could, on the global level, create 80 million jobs, bring 1 billion people out of poverty and add $2.3 trillion in production growth.
13. Livestock farming contributes18% of all human produced greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. It contributes to land and water degradation, biodiversity loss, acid rain, coral reef degeneration and deforestation.
14. Reducing food waste is one of the most important things we can do to reverse global warming. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, 30 percent of food is wasted globally across the supply chain, contributing 8 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions.
15. In the U.S, about 29 percent of global warming emissions come from the electricity sector of our economy. Increasing the supply of renewable energy would allow us to replace carbon-intensive energy sources and significantly reduce US global warming emissions.
Source: Conservation International