Climate Change 101: WHY EVERY DEGREE MATTERS

According to 99.9% of the world’s scientists our planet is warming due to greenhouse gas emissions from human causes. These gas emissions trap heat in the atmosphere, causing the polar ice caps to melt and global average temperatures to increase.

In 2015, government leaders from around the world made a pact, the Paris Agreement, to limit global average temperature rise to a point that would allow a familiar standard of living -- 2 degrees Celsius (2°C).

Here’s why every degree matters:

1°C Increase

  • Decreased water availability, increasing drought in many regions

  • Increased wildfire risk, flooding events, and storm damage

  • Increased burden from malnutrition, diarrhoeal, cardio-respiratory, and infectious diseases

  • Increased risk of extinction for 20-30% of known species

  • Increasing mortality from heat waves, floods, and droughts

  • Most corals bleached

  • Sea level rise due to ice melt

Our planet has already experienced several of the above devastating effects as global average temperatures have risen by 0.8°C due to human causes.


2°C Increase

  • Major changes in natural systems cause predominantly negative consequences for biodiversity, water, and food supplies

  • Widespread coral mortality

  • Flooding risk increases every year, impacting millions

  • Increasing rate sea level rise


3°C Increase

  • Global food production decreases significantly

  • Substantial burden on health services

  • About 30% of global coastal wetlands lost due to sea level rise


4°C Increase

  • Extinction of more than 40% of known species

  • Global economic losses

  • At least partial melting of Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, eventually raising sea level 13-20 feet


It is nearly impossible to predict the severe consequences of going beyond a 2°C rise, as we are already experiencing unanticipated effects from a 0.8°C increase.

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