Global warming and climate change affect absolutely everyone and everything on this planet, but with so many models, theories, and predictions, it can get confusing to know who or what to believe about the environment anymore.
Here are 21 facts that we know about climate change and global warming and how the phenomena are literally changing the planet and how we live our day-to-day lives.
Prepare to be amazed, shocked, and hopefully moved to help make the changes needed to slow down the alarming rate of global warming that has been set in motion since the Industrial Age.
1. First off, let's be clear: In general, the greenhouse effect is a good thing. Without greenhouse gases, the temperature on Earth would be too cold to support life. With too much, it would heat up beyond survivable levels.
2. Approximately 600,000 deaths occurred worldwide as a result of weather-related natural disasters in the 1990s, where 95 percent of those deaths took place in developing countries.
3. 2014 was the world’s hottest year on record, surpassing the previous record set in 2010, tied with 2005.
4. There is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today than at any point in the past 800,000 years, and the U.S. produces 25 percent of the carbon dioxide pollution from fossil-fuel burning.
5. The Montana Glacier National Park has only 25 glaciers left from the 150 that were there in the year 1910.
6. Global warming is associated with hotter temperatures, but it can also cause the opposite. "On one side, [the] Amazon Rainforest is turning into [a] desert and [the] Sahara is becoming greener and greener," said the Plant a Tree Today (PATT) Foundation of the UK and Thailand.
7. Melting ice caps have caused sea levels in the north to rise. For the first time in hundreds of years, ships can pass through the fabled Northwest Passage above North America.
8. Over 100 million people living in coastal regions will be displaced by just a one-yard rise in sea levels.
9. The golden toad was the first species to go extinct because of climate change and habitat loss.
10. Among climate scientists, 97 percent agree that human-caused climate change is happening here and now. The sooner we act to slow the rate of climate change, the lower the risk and cost for future generations.
11. Cows produce more methane than the oil industry does: 20 percent of U.S. methane gas emissions is produced by farmed cattle burps and farts.
12. Of the land in California, 99.84 percent is experiencing drought.
13. The world lost about 16 percent of all coral reefs in 1998, the second hottest year on record.
14. While the U.S. is trying to reduce their greenhouse gases, China plans to construct one coal-based electrical power station each week for the next 10 years.
15. Coal combustion creates 40 percent of electricity worldwide but also is responsible for "30 percent of total anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions worldwide, and 72 percent of CO2 emissions from global power generation," making renewable energy sources like wind or solar more cost-effective in the long run.
16. Many airlines are encouraging "green" aircraft landings by descending in a smooth, continuous fashion to reduce fuel vibrational noise and save on fuel.
17. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by about 30 percent.
18. In 1896, Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius was the first to say that burning fossil fuels may eventually result in global warming.
19. Climate change costs the U.S. over $100 billion each year.
20. Studies on global warming, however, are not all bad. Some scientists want to induce global warming on Mars to make it habitable for life and eventual colonization.
21. Thirty-seven percent of Americans believe that global warming is a hoax, and 64 percent don't believe that climate change will seriously affect their way of life.
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