Recent studies show the 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years, and the top four in the past four years. Over the past century, the average temperature of the Earth has risen by 1.8°F. Over the next one hundred years, scientists are projecting another 0.5 to 8.6°F rise in the temperature.
The cause of this temperature change is human activities that have released large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (such as methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases) into the atmosphere. The majority of greenhouse gases come from burning fossil fuels to produce energy.
Results of this global warming include:
- rising ocean temperatures,
- a more acidic ocean,
- melting ice caps, and
- rising sea levels.
Recent studies show that Earth has lost half its wildlife in just 40 years. The IUCN predicted that 20-30% of plant and animal species are likely to be at an increased risk of extinction due to climate change.
Climate change will also impact humans and especially the world’s 2.6 billion poorest people. According to the United Nations Development Program, “Receding forests, changing rainfall patterns and rising sea levels will exacerbate existing economic, political and humanitarian stresses and affect human development in all parts of the world.”
Everyone can take simple actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, mitigate our personal contribution to climate change, and build greater community resiliency.