8 Scary Facts About Climate Change That Will Make You Glad 150 World Leaders Are Meeting About It Right Now
Nearly 150 world leaders are currently meeting in Paris to discuss an increasingly pressing issue that affects the entire globe. Leaders like President Obama, French President François Hollande, and Chinese President Xi Jinping are at the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference to hold potentially historical talks on how to curb climate change. This year, for the first time ever, the participating countries will try to draft a legally binding, universal agreement signed by every country in the world. Such a landmark deal is not only crucial in the face of ever-rising global temperatures, but long overdue, judging by some pretty terrifying facts about climate change.
Luckily, the world's most powerful individuals are starting to recognize this dire need for action. As the COP21 summit kicked off on Monday, President Hollande remarked to the crowd:
Never have the stakes been so high because this is about the future of the planet, the future of life.
In addressing a global agreement to invest in cleaner energy, reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, and taking other measures to counter global warming, President Obama said:
That's what we seek in these next two weeks — not simply an agreement to roll back the pollution we put into the skies, but an agreement that helps us lift people from poverty without condemning the next generation to a planet that is beyond its capacity to repair.
The emphasis in his statement should be "a planet that is beyond its capacity to repair," because as world leaders work towards a solution, the earth is also rapidly advancing to that exact state. If you're still not convinced that climate change is a serious, humanity-threatening issue, here are eight facts that should change your mind — and scare you into action.
Last Year Was The Hottest Year On Record
Since scientists began keeping record in 1880, 2014 saw the highest average global temperature for both land and ocean.
Weather Events Are Significantly More Severe Today
Weather events caused by El Niño, which refers to warmer-than-average waters in the Eastern equatorial Pacific, are 20 to 30 percent more severe today than they have been in 7,000 years.
Erratic Rainfall Can Taint Water Supplies
Water scarcity already affects one out of 10 people worldwide, and extreme weather patterns are compromising fresh water supplies.
Rising Sea Levels Might Be Unstoppable
According to researchers at NASA and the University of California, Irvine, a disappearing section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet appears to be in "an irreversible state of decline." This glacier, along with others, are melting much faster than scientists expected and will contribute greatly to rising sea levels.
Rising Sea Levels Will Affect 70 Percent Of The World's Coastlines
According to a U.N. climate report from last year, rising sea levels will probably affect 70 percent of the world's coastlines by 2100 — that's about 147 million to 216 million people who will lose their homes to submersion or flooding.
America Is In Serious Drought
Last year, the Obama administration launched the National Climate Assessment, which found that America's current drought "represents the driest conditions in 800 years."
Many Species Are In Danger
Climate change is affecting certain ecosystems, killing off entire habitats, and acidifying oceans, which puts more than a million species of animals and plants in danger of extinction.
If We Don't Act Now, The Effects Of Climate Change Will Be Irreversible
The U.N.'s "Synthesis Report" from last year warns that if we don't take action now, the world will be 7.2 degrees F above pre-industrial temperatures by the end of the century. It put in very terrifying terms:
Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.