Even if we can reach net zero by 2030, by 2040 global climate temperatures will rise by 1.5 degrees.
It might not sound like a lot, but this is huge, bringing longer droughts and harsher heatwaves. More frequent forest fires and extreme weather will also pose a danger to humanity.
But even still, some need more proof of climate change. It’s easy to question the legitimacy of a warming planet if you’re not seeing its impacts yet.
That’s where we aim to help! Keep reading for these eight facts that prove climate change is real.
Carbon Dioxide Levels in the Atmosphere Are the Highest They’ve Ever Been
One of the most startling climate change facts is the increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the air. In February and March 2021, the observatory in Mauna Loa, Hawaii recorded levels of 417 ppm.
This observatory has been tracking CO2 levels in our atmosphere since the 1950s. And for context, pre-industrial levels were set at around 278 ppm.
The last time CO2 levels were this high was over 3 million years ago. Sea levels were several meters above what they are now, and forests grew at the South Pole.
We’re Seeing Extreme Heat Events More Often
We’re seeing more frequent heatwaves and the wildfires that come with them. These fires raged through and devastated Australia, California, and Southern Europe this year.
Those are only the most recent ones to date, not to mention record-breaking temperatures in Europe. One example is the UK, not known for its hot climate, which saw temperatures soar to 40.3 degrees Celcius.
Between 1850-1900 you’d expect events like this to happen once every ten years. Now that figure has risen to 2.8 times, and if temperatures rise by 1.5 degrees, it rises again to 4.1.
It isn’t just wildfires that global warming is increasing, we’re seeing heavy rain, too. And as the frequency goes up, so does the severity of each of these events. These events will only get hotter and wetter if we don’t make headway in reversing climate change.
2 of 3 Extreme Weather Events Had Human Influence
Since 1980 we’ve seen the number of heavy rains and flood events quadruple. Since 2004, they’ve doubled again. Wildfires, droughts, and extreme heat events have also more than doubled in 40 years.
Many factors can cause these events but studies are now paying more attention to the human role. Carbon Brief has looked into 230 cases of extreme weather events across the last 20 years.
Of those, 68% were more likely or made worse because of climate change from humans. 43% of those events were heatwaves, 17% were droughts, and 16% were heavy rains and flooding.
If Things Continue We Will Exceed 1.5 Degrees of Warming
The Paris Agreement aimed to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees. It was ambitious and the later IPCC report tells us how difficult it now will be to meet this target.
From the 5 models, the IPCC reports suggest (very high emissions to very low) all show rises of 1.5 degrees at least. Based on current emissions, the outcome is far from rosy. By 2100, we could face global temperature rises of 2.7-3.1 degrees.
If we want to achieve the 1.5-degree target, emissions will need to see a dramatic reduction right now. This includes going green with renewable energy and moving away from fossil fuels.
Human Activity Has Already Risen Temperatures by 1.07 Degrees
IPPC reports also advise that the climate crisis has been a long time coming. Temperatures are now 1.07 degrees hotter than they were between 1850-1900. That has to be one of the most alarming climate change statistics!
Post-1970, global surface temperatures have also risen faster than any period in the last 2,000 years. The IPPC report is clear in blaming it on greenhouse gases released due to human activity.
Sea Levels Are Rising at Their Fastest Rate
Melting glaciers and ice sheets caused by warming oceans are pushing up sea levels. Since 1900, the sea has been rising faster than any other period in the last 3,000 years. And it’s a trend that sets out to continue long into the future.
Oceans take a long time to warm up, so we haven’t seen the effects of warming that’s already locked in yet. If temperatures rise by 1.5 degrees, the sea will rise between 2-3 meters above its current levels. If it hits 2 degrees, over the next 2,000 years, the sea will rise between 2-6 meters.
Sea Ice Is Disappearing Faster
Of all the places on the planet, temperatures are rising at their fastest in the Arctic. Between 2011 and 2020, the sea ice here hit its lowest record level since 1850. The late summer ice is now at the smallest it’s been in the last 1,000 years.
Under all models the IPCC puts forward, sea ice (at the least) will fall below 1 million square kilometers. By 2050, this will mean the area is all but free of sea ice in its entirety. Compared to averages between 1979-1988, only 15% will remain.
In 40 Years Average Wildlife Populations Fell 60%
The Living Planet Report found that from 1970 to 2014, vertebrate populations fell by 60%. This includes:
The report also found that climate change is playing a big part in the continued decline. Backed by the UN, a scientific panel argues that it’s the driving factor behind extinctions. It comes in third behind land and sea use and exploitation of resources.
Even at a 1.5-degree temperature rise, 5% of existing animal populations face extinction. The coral reefs are increasingly vulnerable. A 2-degree temperature rise could see them reduced to only 1% of their current levels.
Proof of Climate Change You Can’t Ignore
With time against us, it’s more important now than ever before to accept the proof of climate change. If we are to continue to ensure the survival of the human race, along with the rest of the planet, we must act together.
Fossil fuels are but one issue we face, and there must be a mass shift to more renewable sources. Hydro, wind, and solar are all viable options and the world is ready for the switch.
If you enjoyed this article, make sure you check out our other blog posts for more!
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