According to a new study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, at least 85 percent of the world’s population has experienced weather events exacerbated by climate change.
Researches combined machine learning analysis with a well-established data set of temperature and precipitation shifts caused by fossil fuel use and other sources of carbon emissions to create a map of over 100,000 studies of events that could be linked to global warming.
These combined findings, which focused on events such as crop failures, floods, and heatwaves, enabled scientists to establish a strong link between escalating extremes and human activity. They came to the conclusion that global warming has impacted 80 percent of the world’s land area.
Huge Evidence Base Now
“We have a huge evidence base now that documents how climate change is affecting our societies and our ecosystems,”
Lead author Max Callaghan, a researcher at Germany’s Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, said.
The study provides hard data to back up people’s lived experiences from New York City to South Sudan. “Climate change is visible and noticeable almost everywhere in the world,” Callaghan stated. The findings come amid a major push to convince countries to commit to more ambitious climate goals ahead of next month’s United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland.
According to research, current pledges will cause the planet to warm by about 2.7 degrees Celsius (4.9 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century — a level of warming that would result in severe food and water shortages, deadly weather disasters, and ecosystem collapse.
China and India, two of the world’s largest emitters, have yet to commit to a new 2030 emissions reduction target formally. Activists fear that a looming energy crisis, which has pushed up prices and triggered blackouts, will jeopardize efforts to convince developing economies to phase out polluting fuels.
Climate disasters have already claimed at least 388 lives and caused more than $100 billion in damage in the United States this year, according to analyses from The Washington Post and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Climate Change Is Already Disrupting Human Life
Despite a pledge to cut emissions in half by the end of the decade, congressional Democrats are struggling to pass two bills that would provide hundreds of billions of dollars for renewable energy, electric vehicles, and programs to help communities adapt to climate change.
The disparity between the scale of climate disasters and global ambition is on the minds of hundreds of protesters who have descended on Washington this week to demand an end to fossil fuel use.
Joye Braun, a Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe member and a community organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, spoke at a rally in Washington this week.
“How can you say that we are in this climate emergency and be going around and saying we’re at this red point … and at the same time be giving away land for additional oil and gas infrastructure?”
The new study published in Nature adds to a growing body of evidence that climate change is already causing global disruptions in human life. Scientists are becoming more capable of attributing events such as heatwaves and hurricanes to human activity. In August, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) devoted an entire chapter to the extreme weather consequences of a warming world.
The study’s conclusion that 85 percent of humanity is currently impacted by climate change may appear high. However, it is “probably an underestimation,” according to Friederike Otto, a senior lecturer at Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, who was not involved in the study.
The human cost of these events has become unavoidable. Hundreds of people died in the Pacific Northwest this summer due to unusually high temperatures in the typically temperate region. More than one million people in Madagascar face starvation as a historic drought turns into a climate-induced famine.
Flooding in New York caused people to drown in their own homes, while flash flooding inundated refugee camps in South Sudan.
Approximately 450 organizations representing 45 million healthcare workers highlighted how rising temperatures had increased the risk of various health problems, including breathing difficulties, mental illness, and insect-borne diseases, In a letter released Monday.
One of the papers analyzed for the Nature study discovered that deaths from heart disease had increased in areas experiencing increased temperatures.
“The climate crisis is the single biggest health threat facing humanity,” the health organizations’ letter said.
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