The key indicators below demonstrate how our climate is changing and the effect this is having on our precious ecosystems and biodiverse habitats.
Global Tree Cover Loss
In 2020, the tropics lost 12.2 million hectares of tree cover, according to the University of Maryland. Of that, 4.2 million hectares, occurred within humid tropical primary forests, which are especially important for carbon storage and biodiversity. The resulting carbon emissions from this primary forest loss are equivalent to the annual emissions of 570 million cars.
Currently, there are more than 134,400 species on the IUCN Red List (Jan 2021), with more than 37,400 species threatened with extinction, including 41% of amphibians, 34% of conifers, 33% of reef building corals, 26% of mammals and 14% of birds.
More than 8 million people died in 2018 (about 1 in 5 deaths) due to fossil fuel pollution according to new research (Feb 2021) from Harvard University, in collaboration with the University of Birmingham, the University of Leicester and University College London.
Carbon dioxide levels today are higher than at any point in at least the past 800,000 years. CO2 emissions from human activities have caused the concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere to go up from around 275 parts per million (ppm) before the industrial revolution to over 410 in 2020; a 50% increase!
According to the 2020 Global Climate Report from NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, every month of 2020 except December was in the top four warmest on record for that month. The combined land and ocean temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.08 degrees celsius per decade since 1880.
Arctic sea ice extent averaged for February 2021 was 14.39 million square kilometers (5.56 million square miles), placing it seventh lowest in the monthly recorded history. Antarctica has been losing about 134 billion metric tons of ice per year since 2002.