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The climate crisis explained in 10 charts| Climate crisis
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The climate crisis explained in 10 charts| Climate crisis


The problemIncreasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere

The level of CO2It has been increasing since the Industrial Revolution, and is currently at its highest level in about 4m years. Even more remarkable is the rate of growth. the fastest for 66m years, with scientists saying we are in “uncharted territory”.

CO2 chart

The causes (I): fossil fuel burning

Billions of tonnes worth of CO2Each year, a large number of toxins are released into the atmosphere by oil, coal, and gas burning. The slight reduction in 2020 due to coronavirus lockdowns was no more than a “tiny blip” in the continuing buildup of greenhouse gases, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

Emissions chart

The causes (II): forest destruction

Carbon emissions are greatly contributed by the loss of forests for timber, soy, and palm oil. It is also a major contributor to the increase in carbon emissions. annihilation of wildlife on Earth.

Forest loss chart
An illegally lit fire in the Amazon rainforest reserve in Pará state, Brazil
An illegally lit fire in the Amazon rainforest reserve in Pará state, Brazil. Photograph: Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images

The causes (III): Agriculture

Methane is a powerful greenhouse and emission gas. are increasing fasterThis is the most recent observation in 40 years. Both farming, particularly cattle, and fossil fuel extraction and landfill sites are to blame.

Methane chart

The consequences: global temperature rise

The planet’s average temperature started to climb steadily two centuries ago, but has rocketed since the second world war as consumption and population has risen. Global heating means more energy in the atmosphere, making extreme weather more frequent and intense.

Temperature chart

The consequencesIncreasing sea levels

As ice on land melts, and warmer oceans expand, sea levels continue to rise. Global heating has a slow effect on sea levels, even if it is limited to 2C. one in five people in the world will eventually see their cities submergedFrom New York to London, to Shanghai.

sea level chart

The consequences: Arctic sea ice shrinking

As heating melts the sea ice, the darker water revealed absorbs more of the sun’s heat, causing more heating – one example of the vicious circles in the climate system. Scientists believe that the Arctic’s changes may be responsible. worsened heatwaves and floods in EurasiaNorth America.

Arctic sea ice chart

The upside (I).The rise of solar and wind energy

The cost drop has made renewable energy the most affordable energy source in many countries. This trend is expected to continue. Analysts expect that coal use will decline. To reach the required scale, and to tackle difficult sectors like agriculture and aviation, however, government action is still needed.

Renewables versus coal chart
Solar panels above a vineyard in Tresserre, France.
Solar panels placed above a vineyard in Tresserre (France).Photograph by Reuters

The upside (II).: Electric Vehicles

The global fleet of electric cars is still very small in comparison to the ones that run on fossil fuels. However, sales are increasing rapidly. Electric cars are cheaper to runThey will be mainstream, according to the inscription.

Electric vehicles chart

The upside (III).: Battery costs

Renewable energy is not always available. It depends on the weather and when the sun shines. The cost of batteries is falling so storage is crucial. Other technologies, such as the generation of green hydrogen, will be required.

Battery cost chart

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