Vast Majority of People on Earth Feeling Climate Impacts

Majority of People on Earth Feeling Climate Impacts

According to new research published in the journal Nature Climate Change, at least 85% of the global population feels the impacts of human-induced climate change. The study evaluated more than 100,000 studies of events that could be linked to climate change, like crop failures, alongside temperature and precipitation changes caused by carbon emissions. The results showed that 80% of land on earth may be impacted by human activity.

The staggering finding may even be a lowball: the actual figure may be closer to 100% since the study looked at averages and not extremes.

Why This Matters

This study conveys the individual impacts of climate change on a global scale. With President Biden's infrastructure package under debate, the report reinforces that people already feel changes in their daily lives, whether that means a flooded home, failed crops, or a scorching work environment. These findings concur with other survey data as well. For the first time, a majority of Americans say they're being "harmed right now" by global warming, according to the latest national climate survey from Yale's Program on Climate Change Communication.

BBC: Past seven years hottest on record, EU satellite data shows, January 10, 2022.

Channel 4: This is what a year of climate disasters looked like, October 5, 2021.

Gaps Between Words and Action

Individual people are feeling the impact of climate change, and swift action must be taken to avoid the worst effects of a warming planet. Current targets aren't enough; existing national promises would lead to a temperature rise of 2.7 degrees Celsius (4.9 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. These figures should prompt improved climate action coming out of COP26 next month, and motivate countries to take the necessary steps to fulfill their promises.

One big theme from a recent survey of young people worldwide is the feeling of betrayal by their governments on climate action. The on-going delay and partisan debate over the infrastructure bill and Biden's budget package can't be helping.

As Joye Braun, a community organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network and a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, told the Washington Post: "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 Economist: See what three degrees of global warming looks like, October 30, 2021.

World War Zero: All Roads Lead to Glasgow, April 28, 2021.