30 Critical Climate Change Statistics

Scientists and researchers have been constant in their admonitions of the dangers brought about by climate change. They’ve repeatedly been saying that everyone will be affected at some point in their lives. Some will indeed experience it more severely than others, but the bottom line is that no one will be left unscathed.

Sadly, some think that the climate change impact is either limited to developing countries or something that will happen in the distant future. To determine if scientists’ warnings are founded, let’s examine some climate change statistics and see how severe the problem has become.

Some Interesting Climate Change Facts (Editor's Choice)

  • Experts believe that 95% of the current warming trends are the effects of human activity.
  • The global average surface temperature has increased by 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Sea levels have risen about eight to nine inches since 1880.
  • 10% of carbon dioxide emissions are caused by deforestation.
  • 70% of extreme weather events were influenced by human activity.
  • It’s estimated that 1.6 billion people will be at risk of floods by 2050.
  • Climate change will cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year.
  • Climate change has cost the US $350 billion.
Climate Change Statistics

Global Warming Facts

1. The ocean absorbs 90% of excess heat from the greenhouse effect.

(Inside Climate News)

According to scientists, the best proof of global warming is the oceans’ rising temperature. This is because the ocean has an enormous capacity to absorb the heat of the environment.

Unlike land temperature, the ocean’s temperature doesn’t change so quickly, so it’s a good gauge of how hot the Earth is becoming. Unfortunately, the sea surface temperature is steadily rising. For most scientists, it’s sufficient evidence of global warming taking place on the planet.

2. 10% of carbon dioxide emissions are caused by deforestation.

(Rainforest Alliance)

We all know that plants are our best helper in keeping carbon dioxide levels low. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the atmosphere during photosynthesis.

The problem is that, when we cut down billions of trees, we’re not just losing our source of oxygen but also releasing carbon dioxide. When a tree is cut down, it releases all the carbon it’s been storing back into the atmosphere. Imagine how much is released from billions of trees cut during deforestation.

3. Between 65% to 80% of carbon dioxide, one of the many causes of climate change, ends up absorbed by the ocean in 20–200 years.

(The Guardian)

Greenhouse gases are composed of chlorine and fluorine-containing compounds, methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide. These gases stay in the atmosphere for different lengths of time, but chlorine and fluorine-containing compounds vary in how long they stick around. 

However, carbon dioxide can stay for a very long time. While oceans absorb up to 80% of it, the rest can take thousands of years to dissipate.

4. By 2030, CO2 levels need to fall by 45% from the 2010 levels to limit global warming.

(United Nations)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forwarded a special report disclosing the statistics about climate change stating that limiting global warming to 34.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) requires taking drastic measures. 

For this to happen, the whole world needs to drop carbon dioxide emissions by 45% from the levels reached in 2010. That needs to happen by 2030 so that we could reach “net zero” by 2050.

5. The current average increase in surface temperature is eight times faster than the usual post-ice-age-recovery rate.

(Climate Reality Project)

The Earth indeed has a natural cycle of cooling and warming. But the majority of scientists agree that the speed at which the planet’s surface is warming up is phenomenal. 

When the ice age ended, it took the Earth 5,000 years to warm up by 39.2 to 44.6 degrees Fahrenheit (4 to 7 degrees Celsius). Today, the planet’s average global temperature has increased to approximately 33.98 to 34.88 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 to 1.6 degrees Celsius) in just a single century.

6. 15% of global greenhouse gases come from raising livestock.

(Green America)

Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases don’t just come from fossil fuels. There are other sources of greenhouse gases that some of us might not be aware of. Livestock raising is one such example. 

A conservative estimate suggests that the cattle industry contributes to releasing 15% of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Other comprehensive studies place the estimate as high as 50%.

 
Climate Change Statistics

Global Warming Statistics

7. The California drought that started in 2012 was made 15%to20% worse by global warming.

(New York Times)

According to some scientists, the California drought of 2012–2016 was intensified by global warming by 15% to 20%. It’s one of the examples of climate change devastating an entire community. 

Sadly, experts believe that the probability of future droughts being similar in intensity to the California drought is rising because of global warming.

8. Experts believe that 95% of the current warming trends are the effects of human activity.

(NASA Global Climate Change)

The collection of statistics on climate change gathered by scientists reveals just how much the climate is changing. They believe that this change is caused by global warming, resulting from increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Since carbon dioxide and other gases have heat-trapping nature, they produce a greenhouse effect on the planet.

Scientists believe that the massive carbon dioxide levels come from human activity since this gas’s production is increasing 250+ times faster today than it did from natural sources during the Ice Age.

9. Since the 20th century, the global average surface temperature has increased by around 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit.

(GlobalChange)

The average surface temperature of the Earth has increased by 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since the early 20th century. This may not sound like one of the most shocking climate change statistics ever, but this rise in temperature affects the Earth on a global scale. It has caused glaciers and sea ice to melt, precipitation patterns to change, and animals to change habitat.

10. Scientists believe that the Earth’s surface temperature will increase by 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the following century.

(NASA Global Climate Change)

Experts are confident that the planet’s surface temperature will continue to increase in the subsequent decades. They even estimate that the Earth’s temperature will increase by 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit in the next century. They believe that this is still an effect of increasing carbon dioxide levels and other gases that create a greenhouse effect on the Earth’s surface.

11. The Earth’s average surface temperature has risen by 2.05 degrees Fahrenheit since the 19th century.

(NASA Global Climate Change)

A quick review of the history of climate change shows that we are witnessing an unprecedented rate of surface temperature increase. The record now shows that the planet’s surface has increased by 2.05 degrees Fahrenheit since the 19th century. Experts have recorded that the six warmest years were from 2014 to 2020 — more evidence of global warming ramping up in severity.

12. May 2020 recorded a 417ppm reading on carbon dioxide.

(Forbes)

May 2020 saw the highest concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. At a 417ppm reading, this is the highest level recorded in human history. 

Most hoped that the COVID-19 lockdown might have somehow changed the CO2 levels in the atmosphere and reduced global warming. However, this record-breaking high proves that it wasn’t enough to alter carbon dioxide levels’ upward trend.

13. Global sea level has risen about eight to nine inches since 1880.

(Climate.gov)

According to experts, the mean sea level has risen by eight to nine inches since 1880 on a global scale. The rise in sea levels is due to glaciers melting and seawater’s thermal expansion. 

Keeping tabs on the rising sea levels is essential since 40% of the US population resides in coastal areas. This makes them susceptible to flooding, shoreline erosion, and storms — all the effects brought by changes in the oceans.

14. From 2001 to 2012, the world has lost 192,000 hectares of mangrove forests.

(World Resources Institute)

A total of 192,000 hectares of mangrove forests were lost from 2001 to 2012. Mangroves are crucial to carbon dioxide reduction in the atmosphere as they can absorb more carbon than rainforests.

Aside from that, mangroves also play a vital role in preventing erosion and nurturing biodiversity. They also serve as a natural coastline defense during storm surges.

15. In 2019, the US was the 2nd largest source of greenhouse gases, according to some global climate change statistics.

(Earthday)

The US held the second spot for the largest greenhouse gas emitter, right behind China. 

Moreover, the US was a part of The Paris Agreement that had been designed to oblige nations to fight climate change threats by addressing global warming. In particular, it was supposed to slump US greenhouse gas emissions by 26–28% by 2025. However, the US recently left the agreement under the Trump administration.

16. The United States holds 61st place on the CCPI ranking.

(CCPI)

The United States currently has a dismal score on the CCPI (Climate Change Performance Index). The country is well behind the top performers in creating a green, sustainable energy infrastructure.

The US has a particularly low score in climate change policy meant to address the climate change reality. Given that it’s also one of the main contributors to harmful gas emissions, this fact paints a dim picture for the foreseeable future.

17. The hottest decade ever recorded in history was 2010 to 2019.

(NOAA)

According to the UN’s report, there’s sufficient evidence of climate change unraveling for the worse. Data shows that 2010 to 2019 was the hottest decade in recorded history.

The world seems to have gotten used to the rising surface temperature that it seems like just ordinary climate change facts. But experts warn that, in the next five years, a new record-breaking temperature will likely be documented.

18. The sea ice in the Arctic shrinks by 1.07×106 square kilometers per decade.

(United Nations)

Scientists have been monitoring the effects of global warming on the sea ice in the Arctic. They estimate that the Arctic loses as much as 1.07×106 square kilometers of ice. As a result, the oceans have expanded, and the global average sea level rose by 19 centimeters from 1901 to 2010.

19. According to researchers, the Arctic Ocean could be ice-free by 2035.

(Nature)

Researchers predict that the Arctic ocean might see ice-free periods by 2035. While ice coverage in the Arctic region fluctuates during different periods of the year, there hasn’t been a completely ice-free period. 

Researchers looking into the climate change facts and statistics are saying that in 15 years, the world might just see that happen.

This is alarming for two reasons. First, this is evidence that global warming is really happening faster than the planet can take. Second, the Arctic ice serves as a mirror that reflects the sun; without it, more heat from the sun will come in and be absorbed by the oceans, hastening global warming even more.

20. Scientists estimate that the sea level could rise from 2 to 7 feet by the end of the century.

(USA Today)

Freshwater ice from Greenland and Antarctica is melting at record speed because of the Earth’s rising surface temperature. Scientists estimate that, if this goes on and no intervention is done, the sea level could rise from 2 to 7 feet by the end of the century. This could make thousands of coastal areas around the world uninhabitable.

 

Climate Change Statistics

21. 70% of extreme weather events were influenced by human activity.

(Carbon Brief)

A branch of science called weather attribution looked into some of the most severe weather events. It found that 70% of these events’ magnitude or likelihood were directly influenced by human activity. 

They ran simulations on how these events would have been like without climate change, and they found that they would have been significantly less severe.

22. 97% of scientists agree that climate change is mainly caused by human activity.

(NASA Global Climate Change)

Many published climate change statistics, facts, and studies agree that human activity has something to do with climate change. To be more specific, 97% of scientists have this same attitude. Leading scientific organizations are backing up this approach, making it very unlikely to be untrue.

23. About eight out of ten Americans believe that human activity is affecting climate change.

(Washington Post)

A poll on climate change statistics conducted by Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation found that 80% of Americans believe that human activity is directly affecting climate change.

Moreover, almost half of polled Americans believe that a quick response is needed in the next ten years to avoid severe repercussions of climate change. However, only 37% are willing to make sacrifices to fix global warming and climate change.

Most Americans believe that corporations and wealthy households should carry the financial burden of tackling climate change.

24. On average, 702 heat-related deaths take place in the United States every year.

(CDC)

Statistics on climate change have recorded over 702 deaths related to heat exposure every year in recent times. 

The most common reasons for these deaths are heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Still, it can also aggravate pre-existing conditions resulting in fatal heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular diseases.

 
Climate Change Statistics

Impacts of Climate Change

25. Statistics on climate change found that 62% of Americans believe that climate change affects their local community.

(Pew Research Center)

In a Pew Research Center survey conducted among Americans, six out of ten say they’ve seen how climate change affected their local communities. 

The response to the survey varied depending on the geographic location. It appears that those who reside in the Pacific region are more inclined to say that they see the adverse effects of climate change. Some of the effects they mentioned were unusually hot weather, eroded beaches and shorelines, rising sea levels, and more frequent wildfires.

26. It’s estimated that 1.6 billion people will be at risk of floods by 2050.

(WMO)

UNESCO has listed three water-related issues about climate change: increased water-related disasters, increased water-stressed areas, and increases in fatalities due to poor water quality.

By 2050, they’ve estimated that a total of 1.6 billion people will be at risk of flooding, up by 400 million from today’s 1.2 billion people. They’ve also projected that around 2.7 billion to 3.2 billion people will be in danger of living in water-scarce areas in the same period.

27. Climate change will cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year.

(WHO)

According to climate change stats, it’s estimated that climate change will cause 250,000 additional deaths per year due to malnutrition and undernutrition, heat stress, malaria, and diarrhea.

This is because of the increased temperature, and varying precipitation will most likely reduce staple food production. As it is, malnutrition is already causing 3.1 million deaths every year.

28. Since 2015, the US has endured roughly 100 more large wildfires per year than the year before.

(UCSUSA)

In many areas and landscapes, wildfire happens naturally. However, climate change has made wildfires more frequent and intense in the last decade, according to some climate change drought statistics. Rising temperatures cause forests to dry up for longer, which primes wildfires that burn longer and faster. Events like these are both costly and dangerous.

The Camp Fire of 2018, hailed as the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California’s history, killed 90 people and destroyed more than 18,000 buildings.

29. Climate change is predicted to cause the extinction of 8% of species.

(Iberdrola)

Research by the University of Connecticut states that 8% of species extinction will be caused by climate change. This isn’t exactly new climate change evidence, given how human activity has resulted in global warming, acidification of water, and deforestation.

To cite an example, the change in the ocean’s temperature and the water acidification have turned coral reefs full of algae, mollusks, crustaceans, and fish into barren underwater lands.

30. Climate change has cost the US more than $350 billion in the last decade.

(GAO)

According to numerous climate change statistics, the nature of climate change poses certain economic risks to the nation. The US Government Accountability Office conducted research to give lawmakers and government leaders an overview of how much climate change affects the country from an economic standpoint.

According to a report from the Office of Management and Budget, severe weather conditions and extreme heat have cost the government an excess of $350 billion in the last decade. And the costs will likely continue to rise in the next couple of years.

 

Conclusion

The direct influence that human activity has on global warming and climate change has been the source of much debate among lawmakers and government leaders. Based on recent studies conducted by researchers and scientists, the majority agree that extreme weather is made more severe by global warming.

However, it’s still in dispute how to tackle man-made climate change or how much human activity has contributed to the exponential increase in the planet’s surface temperature. According to some researchers, the ice melting in the Arctic will be glaring evidence of human activity’s effects on global warming.

When this happens, it will cause much damage to the planet and, eventually, to humanity.

FAQ

It’s estimated that climate change causes over 150,000 deaths per year. This doesn’t include displacement, poverty, hunger, sickness, and injuries experienced by millions of people because of extreme weather and climatic change. As devastating as it sounds, these calamities and social problems are just some of the more pressing facts about climate change.

Climate change severely impacts the world. In the US, the impact of climate change varies depending on geographic location. Some areas experience heat waves, heavy downpours, rising sea levels in coastal areas, erosion, wildfire, and flooding.

Climate change will affect all areas in the United States. The extent of the damage will vary geographically. However, researchers predict that Florida will be hit the hardest by climate change. The state will experience hotter summers, stronger storms, and rising sea levels by the end of the century. As it is, Florida is already being plagued by regular flooding, so we might see worse things for the state by 2100.

Ironically, Florida is also hesitant to support policies and efforts to combat global warming and climate change.

Everyone will be affected by climate change. But some people and areas will be hit harder than the rest. People who live in coastal areas will be more vulnerable to storm surges and rising sea levels. Developing countries that are short on food supply may experience poverty worse than what they are dealing with now. Children and adults with pre-existing conditions will be hit harder health-wise. They might see climate change and global warming exacerbate their conditions all the more.

Climate change creates ripples of effects on the world and everything living on it, including human beings. This is the expected conclusion of researchers every time they analyze statistics of climate change.
It’s a danger to the lives of millions of people as storms become stronger. It also causes sea levels to rise at alarming rates, endangering those who reside in coastal areas. The world will also see more intense and more extended periods of drought, leading to starvation in already impoverished areas. Climate change can also affect individuals’ health, especially those with asthma and other cardiopulmonary diseases and conditions.
Aside from physical threats, climate change can also have economic consequences. When it causes catastrophic impacts, the government scrambles to fund states for rebuilding and rehabilitation.

Climate change is a natural phenomenon caused by several factors such as solar output, the planet’s orbit, and ocean circulation. However, human activity that releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere has made the effects of climate change more severe.

According to scientists, even if the world stopped emitting carbon dioxide today, global warming would persist for decades to come because of the amount of carbon dioxide we’ve already pumped into the atmosphere.
Researchers propose a two-level approach to mitigate the damaging effects of climate change.

The first step is to decrease the amount of carbon dioxide we release into the atmosphere by recycling non-biodegradable materials, using more fuel-efficient cars, prohibiting deforestation, and imposing taxes on big corporations that pump more carbon dioxide into the air.

The second step is to learn to adapt and cope with climate change.

Those who live in coastal areas and other cities that experience flooding should find ways to combat these threats or relocate to safer places.
As we’ve seen in some climate change statistics we’ve listed, industries and nations’ collective actions are exponentially speeding up global warming, which causes climate change.

Therefore, all countries must work together to develop international policies that can prevent further heating up the planet.

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