Technology and sustainability

Climate change explained in 5 charts

climate change explained

Climate change is about to cause some major changes in the world as we know it: heat waves, see level rise, food shortage, large refugee flows, etc. A change in temperature of only one degree Celsius already causes enormous changes in the world as we know it. However, these enormous consequences of small changes make climate change difficult to comprehend. So below we explain climate change with 5 charts.

The world is warming up

The world is only one degree Celsius warmer than before industrialization. No, that’s stated wrongly. One degree warmer is a lot. The world is already one degree warmer, and that is concerning.

In 2018, the global average temperature was almost one degrees Celsius above the level of 1850 to 1900s.

global average temperature
Source: NOAA

In fact: the warmest twenty years were in the past twenty-two years, and the years between 2015 and 2018 were most warm, the World Meteorological Organization claims.

It this trend of heating up continues, we will experience a three to five degree Celsius warmer climate by the year 2100.

Although one degree Celsius doesn’t sound impressive, the consequences are enormous. Even more so, the heating up with one degree Celsius is a symptom of a more serious process of global warming that will not be stopped easily, nor rewind.

Also read: What is visual and immersive analytics?

More records than ever

Climate change is not like the Olympic Games; new records are not something to rejoice over. More over, climate records should be very disturbing. Unfortunately, records in temperature and climate happen more often each year.

Only in the summer of 2019, almost 400 records in temperature were noted in the northern hemisphere. Records were broken in 29 countries, of with Germany, France and The Netherlands registered most all-time high temperatures. These records were heatwaves, sending temperatures in June and July to all-time records.

The chart below shows the hottest temperature on a certain day in 2019. Note the striking amount of dots. Yellow dots show where a heat record was broken; red dots show this was the hottest day in that month; and dark red dots show de hottest day since records began.

chart hottest temperature
Source: Carto.

These are just numbers. The consequences are seen in daily life: enormous discomfort and numerous deaths. Northern European countries are not build for these high temperatures.

Climate change explained: we should change, but we don’t

As a planet, we are not on track to meet climate change targets we set ourselves. We make promises and sign agreements, but we fail to meet the goals. For example in the Paris Climate Agreement.

The Paris Climate Agreement is a legally binding treaty. Countries agreed to keep temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, but preferably keeping it below 1,5 degrees Celsius. However, scientist now believe temperature rises should in fact be below 1,5 degrees Celsius.

climate change emissions
Source: Climate Action Tracker

We are losing control.

The biggest polluters are the United States and China

Some big polluters cause most of the CO2 emissions and are the biggest contributors to climate change. The biggest contributions should be expected from these biggest contributors.

chart biggest polluters

According to PBL, the United States of America and China account for more than 40% of the global total of greenhouse gases.

Unfortunately, these big polluters also seem to be the least interested in change. Former president Trump of the United States of America had a pro-fossil fuels agenda and withdrawed from the Paris Climate Agreement, claiming it would disadvantage US businesses, totally ignoring the fact that the industrialization and economic endeavors were the cause of the rising CO2 emissions. In this way, the United States of America, as the biggest contributor, ignored the seriousness of climate change.

cities and climate change

Especially urban areas are threatened

The consequences of climate change are rising temperatures, heat waves, rising sea level and floods. Urban areas are most at risk to experience the seriousness of climate change, and especially urban areas in second and third world countries, with cities like Kinshasa, Lagos and Guayaquil. In fact, 84 of the 100 fastest growing cities will experience serious consequences from climate change, like extreme weather conditions, extreme temperatures and rising water level.

A weird fact is that Miami in the United States of America is one of the first big cities to disappear due to a rising sea level, while the United States of America is also the biggest contributor to and biggest denier of climate change.

Less beef, more beans

Changes in our lifestyle can contribute to a lower level of climate change. Some small changes have a big impact. For example, by skipping animal products like meat and diary product and replacing them by a more plant based diet of locally grows seasonal products. Or by driving and flying less, but to prefer to walk, bike or use public transport.

diet and climate change

What are you going to change to contribute to a lower rate of climate change?

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