This blog was initially published by our partner, Catholic Relief Services
Climate change affects lives each day around the globe. From summer heat waves to drastic floods, it touches the wealthiest individuals living in modern cities and the poorest in developing countries. The effects of climate change can reach far beyond the expected ecosystems, economic sectors and populations.
On March 19, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. local time, cities, landmarks and businesses around the world will turn off their lights for one hour. The goal of this Earth Hour is to highlight climate change dangers.
Climate change is happening now, and predictions for the future are grim.
Below are five of the most shocking climate statistics that you may have been in the dark about:
- Events influenced by climate change took 12,994 lives in 2015.
This startlingly high number, provided by the International Disaster Database at the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, is up from 8,056 in 2014, showing just how dangerous climate change is becoming. There is a pressing need to adapt to climate change in order to protect lives threatened by droughts, fires, heat waves, storms, floods and landslides.
- The total monetary cost of events influenced by climate change in 2015 was $74.6 billion.
This data from the International Disaster Database highlights the huge economic impact. Besides the social, physical, and environmental needs, among many others, to mitigate and adapt to minimize future damage, there is an increasing economic need as well.
- 90% of the recorded natural disasters from 1995 to 2015 were influenced by climate and weather.
According to the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, the United States had the highest number of disasters, followed by China, India, the Philippines and Indonesia. Resilience and disaster planning are needed to reduce risks and mitigate impacts of floods, heat waves, droughts and other potentially catastrophic climate-related events.
- With no action, climate change costs and risks will accumulate to an equivalent of an annual loss of at least 5% of global GDP.
A report by Jonathan M. Harris, Brian Roach and Anne-Marie Codur at Tufts University, “The Economics of Global Climate Change,” predicts losses of land area, species and forests; and water supply disruption, increased human health dangers and drought. These changes—affecting biodiversity, agricultural production and human survival—will likely be irreversible. Other, less predictable, effects may include changing weather patterns, rapid melting of major ice sheets and glaciers, and an increasing rate of global warming.
- The total annual cost of climate change on human health will total about $2 to $4 billion by 2030.
This estimate from the World Health Organization accounts for the detrimental effects of climate change on vital basic resources, such as clean air, safe water, adequate nutrition and protective shelter. WHO also estimates 250,000 more deaths will occur annually between 2030 and 2050 because of climate change.
These numbers underscore the great sense of urgency to act against climate change to protect innocent lives.
Author: Joyce Coffee is managing director of Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index.
Patricia Holly, a University of Notre Dame student, contributed to this article.