I’ve been hearing about climate change for years, but I’ll admit that I never paid it much mind. I’m sure that sort of apathy is rampant among most U.S. citizens, but I recently received a wake-up call in the form of a 2011 documentary titled The Crisis of Civilization.
Directed by Dean Puckett and written/hosted by Dr. Nafeez Mossadeq Ahmed, the film examines the leading threats to modern civilization. Climate change, of course, is right at the top of the list, alongside such cheery subjects as failing economies, energy depletion, and global terrorism.
While any of the above issues could fill an entire book, I wanted to focus on climate change by providing a series of sobering factoids. If you’d like to know more (and don’t mind having the living daylights scared out of you), be sure to give The Crisis of Civilization a look.
Fact #1 – By the end of the 21st century, 70% of the world’s coastlines will be affected by rising sea levels. Half the world’s population lives near the sea, which means the expected rise of 1.3 to 3.9 feet should result in flooding, coastal erosion, destruction of infrastructure, and massive civilian displacement.
Fact #2 – Due to global warming, over a million species may face extinction in the coming decades. Some animals require specific habitats, and many of these may go the way of the dodo as their ecosystems begin to fall apart. If you’ve ever wanted to see a koala at the zoo, I suggest doing so before it’s too late.
Fact #3 – Increased heat wave activity is expected to lead to more deaths among the general population. The number of annual casualties is expected to increase to 150,000 just in the United States, with cities such as Cleveland, Louisville, and Detroit being among the hardest hit.
Fact #4 – Progress has been made in combating climate change, but it’s not happening fast enough. Greenhouse gas emissions increased from 1970 to 2010, and the United States only managed to curb their fossil fuel usage by 7% from 1981 to 2011.
Fact #5 – Recent droughts in the United States have been devastating. Conditions have been the driest in 800 years, and Texas and Oklahoma alone suffered $10 billion in agricultural losses in 2011 through 2012.
Fact #6 – The average temperature around the globe keeps going up. Scientists started recording the annual temperature in 1880. Since then, each year in the 21st century has ranked among the highest.
Fact #7 – Despite tremendous evidence about global warming, most people don’t seem to care. A recent poll found that 97% of research scientists agree about global warming, yet the majority of the world’s population isn’t doing anything about it. We seem to be trading short-term convenience for the long-term survival of our species.
Fact #8 – Water in the world’s oceans has become more acidic. In fact, it’s 26% more acidic than it was at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century. According to some scientific estimates, the level is at an all-time high for the last 300,000 years.
Fact #9 – By 2030, the number of people impacted by global flooding could triple. The number is currently 21 million, but that’s expected to increase dramatically since warmer air has the ability to hold more water vapor. The economic cost of flooding could be as high as $484,936,900,000 within the next 15 years.
Fact #10 – Outbreaks of tropical diseases and plagues are expected to increase. Malaria is on the rise, and some scientists estimate that up to 80 million people could be affected annually by 2100. Cases of plagues have also been on the rise, which is never a good sign.
Climate change is no joke, and anyone who thinks differently is in for a rude awakening. There’s far too much evidence to deny its existence, and only by taking radical actions can we hope to stem the tide of destruction to our natural surroundings. Unfortunately, a large amount of permanent damage has already been done, so even responsible solutions aren’t going to provide a magical remedy. As the old saying goes, “You reap what you sow.”