Scientific proof: climate change is happening now
As global warming tightens its grip, the effects are being felt from the highest mountain peaks to the depths of the oceans. In just the last few years there are numerous examples of how this is affecting people and nature all over the world.
- Global warming is melting glaciers in every region of the world, putting millions of people at risk from floods, droughts and lack of drinking water.
- Arctic sea ice reached its second lowest recorded level during the melt season of 2008. The lowest level, since satellites measurements began in 1979, was 2007.
- 2003, Scotland's hottest year on record, saw hundreds of adult salmon die in Scotland’s famous fisheries, as rivers became too warm for salmon to be able to extract enough oxygen from the water.
- Coral reefs around the world have been severely damaged by unusually warm ocean temperatures. The Caribbean saw its warmest ever ocean temperatures in 2005, combined with the worst coral bleaching ever. At the current rate of degradation, the entire Great Barrier Reef could be dead within a human lifetime.
- Cities like Athens, Chicago, Milan, New Delhi and Paris have sweltered under heatwaves. The 2003 summer heatwave in Europe killed 14,800 people in France alone, according to official figures released in September 2003. The French National Institute for Health and Medical Research said that the death rate was on average 60% higher than usual.
- Summer temperatures in European capitals have increased by up to 2°C over the last 30 years, a WWF report showed.
- Rising sea levels threaten entire nations on low-lying islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Read Climate Witness stories about the impact of rising sea levels in the South Pacific and India.
- A report released by WWF and leading meteorologists shows that human-induced global warming was a key factor in the severity of the 2002 drought in Australia, generally regarded as the worst ever.
Reference for first paragraph:
The world is the warmest it has been in the last 12,000 years as a result of rapid warming over the past 30 years.
Article: James Hansen, Makiko Sato, Reto Ruedy, Ken Lo, David W. Lea, and Martin Medina-Elizade. Global temperature change.PNAS 2006 103: 14288-14293. http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/103/39/14288