Climate Change Facts
Climate Change Facts

34 Climate Change Facts You Need to Know

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published February 15, 2020
  • Scientists predict that the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free in summer by 2030, or even sooner.[1]
  • Scientists worry that climate change could cause the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet, which could raise sea levels by as much as 19 feet.[1]
  • Shen Kuo (1031–1095), a scientist from the Song Dynasty, noticed fossilized bamboo in a region without the plant. He hypothesized that climate, which had been considered as static, could change.[5]
  • The sun has periods of high and low sunspot activity that affects how much energy reaches the earth. Scientists initially questioned if low sunspot activity could stop global warming. However, they now know that while a dip could slow global warming, it could not stop it.[5]
  • Antonio Vivaldi (1678–1741) was one of the first Western composers to draw direct inspiration from weather and weather changes.[5]
  • Svante Arrhenius Fact
    Svante Arrhenius, the man who predicted climate change
  • Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius (1859–1927) was the first to link the increase in carbon dioxide to climate change. However, he foresaw benefits, not risks. It wasn't until the calculations of English engineer Guy Callendar (1897–1964) and Canadian physicist Gilbert Plass (1920–2004) that the forecasts became more dire.[5]
  • Cellist Daniel Crawford composed a musical piece for a cello in which each note represents a year on NASA's record of global average temperature from 1880–2012.[5]
  • Irish-born physicist John Tyndall (1820–1893) is usually credited with discovering greenhouse gases.[5]
  • Robert Fitzroy (1805–1865) was the captain on Charles Darwin's HMS Beagle in the 1830s. He created the first daily weather predictions, to which he gave the name "forecasts."[5]
  • An overwhelming 97% of climate change scientists agree that climate-warming over the last century is caused by human activity.[5]
  • The planet's average surface temperature has risen about 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit (0.9 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century.[3]
  • While the earth's climate has changed throughout history, the current warming trend is significant because it is both the result of human activity, and it is changing at a rate that is unprecedented.[3]
  • The amount of spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has decreased over the past 50 years, and snow is melting earlier.[5]
  • In the last century, sea levels rose about 8 inches. In the last two decades, the rate has been nearly double that of the last century and continues to accelerate.[3]
  • Climate change dramatically changes coral reef ecosystems. As temperatures rise, mass coral bleaching and infectious disease outbreaks have become more frequent. Climate change also affects sea levels, intensity of tropical storms, and altered current patterns, all of which negatively affect coral reefs.[1]
  • The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is the highest it has been in 3 million years. Carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases (GHGs) that trap heat and cause global warming.[1]
  • Deforestation causes about 11% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.[5]
  • Climate change is happening, humans are causing it, and I think this is perhaps the most serious environmental issue facing us

    - Bill Nye

  • The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide has increased by more than 30% since pre-industrial times, which has trapped more heat in the lower atmosphere.[1]
  • In 2017, carbon emissions around the globe increased by 1.7%. In 2018, they were up 2.7% from the previous year. In 2019, emissions rose even more. The increase is due to continuing deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels.[4]
  • The most severe impacts of climate change could be irreversible by 2030.[1]
  • The 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years, with measurements going back to 1895.[1]
  • Half of all amphibians are at risk of extinction due to climate change.[1]
  • The United States is the second leading emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, behind China. It is the leading emitter per capita.[1]
  • Climate Change History
    Carbon dioxide emissions reached a record high in 2019

  • Over 1 million species are at risk for extinction by climate change.[7]
  • Climate change is shifting the seasons. Springs, winters, and falls are becoming shorter, while summers are lengthening.[1]
  • Heatwaves are 30 times more likely to occur due to climate change.[1]
  • Due to climate change, sea levels are rising at the fastest rate recorded in the last 2,000 years. In 2019, Indonesia announced that it will move the capital city away from Jakarta because the city is sinking as much as 25 cm per year.[6]
  • If everyone lived the way people in the United States live, it would take five earths to provide all the necessary resources.[2]
  • Climate change and natural disasters
    Changes in the global climate exacerbate natural disasters
  • Climate change increases the intensity of natural disasters. For example, the intensity of wildfires and hurricanes have increased over the past two to three decades.[1]
  • Even a climate change of less than two degrees Celsius will place 5% of plant and animals species at risk for extinction.[6]
  • Scientists warn that as temperatures rise due to climate change, dengue fever could spread through most of the southeastern United States by 2050. Currently, the disease kills around 10,000 people and affects 100 million people per year.[6]
  • Only five countries, including the United States, create over 50% of all global CO2 emissions.[2]
  • Average sea levels are expected to rise 7–23 inches before the end of the century.[2]
  • Climate change and global warming are not the same phenomenon. Global warming is the long-term trend of rising temperatures. Climate change is the way carbon emissions change entire weather patterns, including precipitation patterns, drought, heat waves, ocean currents, ocean acidification, and more.[1]

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