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Climate change:
11 facts you need to know

We’re already seeing the effects of human-caused climate change — but nature can help.

We’re already seeing the effects of climate change, but thankfully, the planet is equipped with a powerful tool for stabilizing the climate: nature itself. Protecting nature today means a better planet for future generations. Share these facts about climate change and help make a difference:​

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© Gong Hangxu

416 part​s per million 1

The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2)​​​​​​​ in our atmosphere, as of July 2021, is the highest it has been in human history. 2 ​Tweet this fact »

© Robin Moore

2020 was a scorcher

Analysis by NOAA shows that average global temperatures in 2020 were 1.76 degrees F (0.98 degrees C) warmer than the 20th century average — making it the second-hottest year on record. In fact, the seven warmest years in the 1880-2020 record have all occurred since 2014.3 ​Tweet this fact »

© shaunl

11% of emissions

Eleven percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans are due to deforestation 5 — comparable to the emissions from all of the passenger vehicles on the planet. 6 ​Tweet this fact »

© Conservation International/photo by Emmeline Johansen

Nature is an untapped solution

Tropical forests are incredibly effective at storing carbon, providing at least a third of the mitigation action needed 7 to prevent the worst climate change scenarios. Yet nature-based solutions receive only 3% of all climate funding. 8 ​Tweet this fact »

© Adrian Portugal

Fight climate change, improve livelihoods — naturally

Natural climate solutions such as restoring degraded forests could create as many as 39 jobs per million dollars spent — that's a job-creation rate more than six times higher than the oil and gas industry. 9 ​Tweet this fact »

 

 

Breaking climate news

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© Thomas Muller

July 2021 was the hottest month ever recorded

According to NOAA, global temperatures in July 2021 were higher than any other July on record — making it likely the hottest month the world has seen since records began in 1880. 10 Tweet this fact »

© Giedrius Dagys

800 million people

Eleven percent of the world’s population is currently vulnerable to climate change impacts 11 such as droughts, floods, heat waves, extreme weather events and sea-level rise. ​Tweet this fact »

© Jeff Yonover

Coastal ‘blue carbon’ ecosystems are critical

Just 0.7% of the world’s forests are coastal mangroves 12, y​​​​​​et they store up to 10 times as much carbon per hectare as tropical forests. 13, 14, 15 Tweet this fact »

© Alexpunker

800,000 hectares lost every year 15

If we continue to lose mangroves at this rate, they may disappear within the next century. This loss, removes an important buffer from extreme weather for coastal communities and releases immense amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Tweet this fact »

© Matt Oldfield

Save nature. It’s cheaper

Conserving ecosystems is ​often more cost-effective than human-made interventions. In the Maldives, preserving the natural coral reef is four times cheaper than building a sea wall for coastal protection, even after 10 years of maintenance costs. 16 ​Tweet this fact »

© Damien Roué/Flickr Creative Commons

189 nations on board

189 countries have ratified the 2015 Paris Agreement 17, agreeing to limit global warming and adapt to climate change, partly by protecting nature. ​Tweet this fact »

Bonus fact

© NASA

Price tag: US$ 140​ billion per year 18

This is what it would take to make the changes humanity needs to adapt to a warming world. It may sound like a lot, but it’s less than 0.2% of global GDP. 19 And the cost will only increase the longer we take to act ambitiously. Tweet this fact »

© Trond Larsen

You Can Help Fight Climate Change

Join the thousands who have stepped up to protect nature like mangroves, which trap carbon and safeguard coastal communities against sea-level rise and storms. Restoring mangroves is just one of the essential ways we can use nature in our urgent fight to halt climate change.

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References

  1. C. D. Keeling, S. C. Piper, R. B. Bacastow, M. Wahlen, T. P. Whorf, M. Heimann, and H. A. Meijer, Exchanges of atmospheric CO2 and 13CO2 with the terrestrial biosphere and oceans from 1978 to 2000. I. Global aspects, SIO Reference Series, No. 01-06, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego, 88 pages, 2001. https://scrippsco2.ucsd.edu/data/atmospheric_co2/primary_mlo_co2_record.html. Accessed: 2020-06-09.
  2. Willeit, M., Ganopolski, A., Calov, R., & Brovkin, V. (2019). Mid-Pleistocene transition in glacial cycles explained by declining CO2 and regolith removal. Science Advances, 5(4), eaav7337. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aav7337
  3. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (2021, January). 2020 was Earth's 2nd-hottest year, just behind 2016. https://www.noaa.gov/news/2020-was-earth-s-2nd-hottest-year-just-behind-2016. Accessed: 2021-08-31.
  4. NOAA. Global Climate Report - 2019. https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/201913. Accessed: 2020-06-09.
  5. Goodman, R.C., Herold, M. (2014). Why Maintaining Tropical Forests Is Essential and Urgent for a Stable Climate - Working Paper 385. Center for Global Development. https://www.cgdev.org/publication/why-maintaining-tropical-forests-essential-and-urgent-stable-climate-working-paper-385
  6. DeCicco, J., Fung, F., An, F. (2006). Global Warming on the Road: The climate impact of America’s automobiles. Environmental Defense. https://www.edf.org/sites/default/files/5301_Globalwarmingontheroad_0.pdf
  7. Correction to Supporting Information for Griscom et al., Natural climate solutions. (2019). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(7), 2776–2776. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1900868116
  8. Buchner, B., Clark, A., Falconer, A., Macquarie, R., Meattle, C., Wetherbee, C. (2019). Global Landscape of Climate Finance 2019. Climate Policy Initiative. https://climatepolicyinitiative.org/publication/global-landscape-of-climate-finance-2019/
  9. Garrett-Peltier, H., Pollin, R. (2010). Job Creation per $1 Million Investment. University of Massachusetts Political Economy and Research Institute. https://grist.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/job_creation_for_investment_-_garrett-peltier.pdf
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  2. DARA. (2012). Climate Vulnerability Report - 2nd Edition. https://daraint.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/CVM2ndEd-FrontMatter.pdf.
  3. Giri, C., Ochieng, E., Tieszen, L. L., Zhu, Z., Singh, A., Loveland, T., … Duke, N. (2010). Status and distribution of mangrove forests of the world using earth observation satellite data. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 20(1), 154–159. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1466-8238.2010.00584.x
  4. Fourqurean, J. W., Duarte, C. M., Kennedy, H., Marbà, N., Holmer, M., Mateo, M. A., … Serrano, O. (2012). Seagrass ecosystems as a globally significant carbon stock. Nature Geoscience, 5(7), 505–509. https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo1477
  5. Pan, Y., Birdsey, R. A., Fang, J., Houghton, R., Kauppi, P. E., Kurz, W. A., Phillips, O. L., Shvidenko, A., Lewis, S. L., Canadell, J. G., Ciais, P., Jackson, R. B., Pacala, S. W., McGuire, A. D., Piao, S., Rautiainen, A., Sitch, S., & Hayes, D. (2011). A Large and Persistent Carbon Sink in the World’s Forests. Science, 333(6045), 988–993. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1201609
  6. Pendleton, L., Donato, D. C., Murray, B. C., Crooks, S., Jenkins, W. A., Sifleet, S., Craft, C., Fourqurean, J. W., Kauffman, J. B., Marbà, N., Megonigal, P., Pidgeon, E., Herr, D., Gordon, D., & Baldera, A. (2012). Estimating Global “Blue Carbon” Emissions from Conversion and Degradation of Vegetated Coastal Ecosystems. PLoS ONE, 7(9), e43542. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0043542
  7. Jones, H. P., Hole, D. G., & Zavaleta, E. S. (2012). Harnessing nature to help people adapt to climate change. Nature Climate Change, 2(7), 504–509. https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate1463
  8. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Paris Agreement - Status of Ratification. https://unfccc.int/process/the-paris-agreement/status-of-ratification. Accessed: 2020-06-09.
  9. Puig, D., Olhoff, A., Bee, S., Dickson, B., & Alverson, K. (Eds.) (2016). The Adaptation Finance Gap Report. United Nations Environment Programme. https://backend.orbit.dtu.dk/ws/files/198610751/Adaptation_Finance_Gap_Report_2016.pdf
  10. Worldometer. Global GDP this year. https://www.worldometers.info/gdp/. Accessed: 2020-06-09.