In the spirit of the People's Climate March in New York last week, here are ten climate change statistics that will help keep the conversation going
The last couple weeks have been good for climate change activists. We saw the largest gathering of climate change protesters in New York where 400,000 people vented their frustration at government inaction.
The protest was followed by the United Nations Climate Change Summit. Although the leaders of some of the world’s biggest polluters like Canada and China were noticeably absent, the summit did get the world talking on how best to combat global warming. It’s a shame the week’s events didn’t garner more coverage from the media, particularly in the United States.
Adding to the events that took place in New York, my favorite author Naomi Klein published her third book titled “This Changes Everything: Capitalism VS. The Climate.” It basically explains how we need to tackle climate change by radically changing capitalism for the better. Thereby killing two birds with one stone.
In the spirit of the protests, the UN Summit, Klein’s book and the search for truth, I’ve decided to provide some basic climate change statistics that should illuminate just how serious climate change really is.
1 – First and foremost, it is important to note that more than 97% of climate scientists agree that climate change is being caused by humans. Since science achieves a consensus when scientists stop arguing, there should be no more public debate, just action.
2 – Among developed nations, the biggest carbon dioxide polluter per capita is Australia, with the United States and Canada following closely behind.
3 – China has passed the United States in overall carbon dioxide emissions by a widening margin. China is now responsible for a quarter of the world’s emissions while the United States has dropped to a little over 18% and the European Union is close to 14%.
4 – The average temperature in three large areas of the planet has increased at two times the global average. A report from the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment revealed that the average temperature in Russia, Western Canada and Alaska have all increased by twice the global average.
5 – People in developed countries are less likely to sacrifice economic growth in order to deal with climate change. If we deal with climate change correctly, it won’t necessarily cause big economic problems, but this chart does goes to show where the minds of our global citizens are.
6 – Crazier weather is said to be caused by climate change. Well, the intensity and duration of deadly hurricanes have doubled in the last four decades. Based on a study conducted by MIT, there has been a 100% increase in both the duration and intensity of natural calamities occurring on earth since the 1970’s, particularly tropical storms and hurricanes.
7 – Nine out of 10 of the warmest years ever recorded between 1880 and 2013 were within the last 13 years. 1998 was the only one not to crack the top ten. 2010 currently holds the record for the warmest year ever.
8 – According to National Geographic, the average global temperature could rise as much as 5.8 degrees in the next hundred years. To put that in perspective, the average global temperature rose by 0.6 degrees during the 20th century. Scientists say that an increase of that size could trigger a meltdown of the Greenland Ice Shelf, which in turn could cause massive flooding worldwide.
9 – According to the World Bank, 83.9% of the energy Americans consumed in 2011 came from fossil fuels. This might seem like a modest number until you consider the figure was 90.8% in 1981. In 30 years, the U.S. has only managed to limit its fossil fuel usage by 7%. Given that the burning of fossil fuels is linked to climate change, it is plain to see why only drastic measures will help reduce it.
10 – Perhaps the biggest problem we have when dealing with climate change is our media’s lack of reporting. Media coverage of climate change in the United States and Canada has been terrible at best. While coverage has obviously increased over what it was twenty years ago, climate change is still barely mentioned on the nightly news or in newspapers, especially when talking about natural disasters and drought.