Earth Day: Key facts about climate change

By Ariane Arpin-Delorme

Many people seem to see the climate crisis as a problem to come: something we can wait to deal with later.

This is not the case: the climate crisis does not await us and is considered the greatest threat that humanity has ever faced.

Don't blame us, but on this Earth Day and maybe to shake you up a bit, here are some key facts about the climate crisis:

On the site The World Counts, we note this:

“If Earth's history is compared to a calendar year: Modern man has been around for about 37 minutes.  A third of the Earth's natural resources have been consumed in the last 0.2 seconds (by modern humans)… Real change is needed.  Not just politicians and businesses - but all of us.  Without understanding the situation and developing a deeper awareness of the life we ​​live - and the consequences it has - such changes are unlikely to occur."

Take a look at this site which records in real time what we - a world population of almost 8 trillion people - consume (natural resources, waste, aluminum), produce (chemicals, plastic bags) as well as what we are losing (tropical forest, drinking water, corals), etc.

It tells us how many planets Earth we would need based on our overconsumption and how much time is left before plastic waste outnumbers the number of fish in the oceans!

Also take a look at the climate clock

“The Clock combines art, science, technology and grassroots organization to bring the world to #ActInTime.  The project centers on a simple tool: a clock that counts down the critical time window to reach zero emissions (our “deadline”), while monitoring our progress on key solution pathways (“lifestyle habits”).  .  By showing us what to do by when, the clock frames our critical mission - a swift and fair transition to a climate-secure future - and puts it at the forefront of our attention.”

 In Montreal, the clock was launched in November 2015, located at Concordia University: Watch the video by David Usher and Dr. Damon Matthews.

(Also New York a Climate Clock was launched in September 2020 and appears to have encouraged several other countries to do the same).

1- Climate change represents a human-made crisis

Over 97% of climatologists around the world agree that climate change is happening, and it's being caused by human activity.

2- The concentration of greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere is directly related to the average global temperature on Earth.  (IPCC)

The concentration of greenhouse gases has increased by 47% since the start of the industrial age.  This most abundant gas, accounting for about two-thirds, is carbon dioxide (CO2) and produced largely by the combustion of fossil fuels (used to generate electricity, industry and transport).

3-Methane (main component of natural gas), is responsible for more than 25% of global warming

It is a powerful pollutant with a global warming potential more than 80 times greater than CO2 during the 20 years following its release into the atmosphere.  Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius would prevent the thawing of 1.5 to 2.5 million square kilometers (579,000 to 965,000 square miles) of frozen permafrost, itself a major source of carbon and methane.

4-The plastic continent in the North Pacific Ocean contains more than 80,000 tonnes of waste

Read our article for more detailed information: Ocean: State of play

5-Lightning strikes increase by 10 to 12% creating more and more forest fires

6-The global average temperature in 2019 was 1.1 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial period, according to the WMO

The impacts of a 1.1 degree increase are present today in the increased frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events (heat waves, droughts, floods, winter storms, hurricanes, retreating ice, fires, etc.)

7-30% of the world's population is exposed to deadly heat waves more than 20 days a year

8-In a world warmer by 2 degrees Celsius, coral reefs will almost disappear entirely

9-In a world warmer by 2 degrees Celsius, about 61 million more people in urban areas of Earth will be at severe drought and about 10.4 million people will be at risk of level rise  from the sea, such as increased coastal flooding, erosion of beaches and salinization of drinking water.

10-These effects are not felt equally

Any conversation about the climate crisis is incomplete without considering how disproportionately it harms low-income and racialized communities.  This oppression is often achieved in a systemic way, through policies and practices that place these people in close proximity to polluting facilities such as power plants, plastics factories, gas pipelines or major highways.

Living near pollution exposes the inhabitants of these communities to a variety of harmful pollutants at a higher rate than Caucasian (white) and richer communities. This leads to much higher rates of serious and potentially fatal health problems.


Read our other articles on this subject:

Your eco-friendly 2022 resolutions

Our tips on how to reduce plastic microparticles in our oceans

15 things we don’t buy anymore in 2022

10 actions to take for a more eco-responsible life

The basics of zero-waste

My first steps towards zero waste

Going zero waste, where do we start?

Fast fashion: state of play

The devil wears virgin polyester


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