Climate catastrophe: the clock is ticking and time is running out
Most people are aware these days that our climate is changing and acknowledge that global warming is an unequivocal truth. Top scientists around the world are now largely in agreement that we need to change our ways quickly if we’re to avert an incoming climate catastrophe and reverse the damage we’ve done to our planet.
Current facts about the rate of climate change
While the majority of us accept that environmental damage is real, perhaps fewer of us know just how far down the path we are towards an impending climate emergency. Here are just a few lesser-known, sobering facts about the state of our planet today.
Human activity has caused the greatest increase in temperature: While global temperature variations in the past have often been caused by natural events like volcanic eruptions, since 1950 humans have been to blame for a warming world. Through burning fossil fuels, increasing farming and agriculture and destroying forests we have amplified emissions while also reducing the earth’s potential for self-healing. Our thirst for power and resources seems unending and we will only reverse the damaging changes we’ve made if we take action quickly. We all have a part to play in reducing consumption – both from a business and a personal sense. Even seemingly small acts like auditing your company’s water use and wastage using services like utilitybidder.co.uk could, when taken as a whole, make a huge difference to the pressures we are all putting on our planet.
The 20 warmest-ever recorded years have occurred in the last 22 years: 2019 was noted as the second-warmest year on record but the world has seen a consistent warming trend since the 1970s. Indeed, 20 of the last 22 years have witnessed the hottest global temperatures ever recorded. There is expected to be a slight overall cooling through 2020, caused mostly by lack of industrial activity and travel through the Coronavirus pandemic, which gives an intriguing insight into just how we could all work together to reverse our warming world if we all made changes.
Temperatures have risen by around a degree over the last 100 years: A one-degree increase in temperature might not sound like a lot but, in climatic terms, it’s a huge milestone and a warming world is now starting to have a real impact on plants, animals and our environment. In the Paris Agreement of 2015, 196 nations around the world committed to capping global temperature increases to below two degrees – and closer to 1.5 degrees if possible.
We risk losing more than 1 million species: Mass extinction is another unwanted challenge facing us through a changing climate and it’s estimated we currently lose dozens of plants and animals every day. More depressingly, scientists now warn that if the situation doesn’t improve, we may well lose between 30% and 50% of the total species currently on Earth.
Climate change is a real and present danger facing the world – but its effects are not irreversible. If we collectively take a stand and make small differences to our lifestyles and habits, we still have time to repair the damage we’ve done to our planet.
Keep up with the top stories from Reader’s Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.