The global campaign for World Environment Day 2022 promotes the theme #OnlyOneEarth to push for transformative changes to policies and choices to enable cleaner, greener, and sustainable living in harmony with nature.
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed June 5th to be World Environment Day in 1972. In 1974, the inaugural celebration was undertaken under the slogan “Only One Earth.”
In the years afterward, World Environment Day has grown into a platform for raising awareness about issues such as air degradation, plastic pollution, illicit wildlife trafficking, economic sustainability, sea-level rise, and food security. World Environment Day also aids in the transformation of consumer patterns as well as national and international environmental policies.
The assertion is as applicable today as it was 50 years ago. This planet is our only homeland, and humanity must protect its precious resources.
On the occasion of World Environment Day, let us look at the evidence to better comprehend one of the greatest worries of our time: climate change and environmental degradation.
- The gap between what we need to expend to adapt and what we are expending is broadening. Estimated expenses of adaptation continue to climb and could reach US$280-500 billion per year by 2050 for developing nations alone.
- Each year, we extract a projected 55 billion tons of fossil energy, minerals, metals, and biomass from the Earth.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that at least 9 out of 10 people worldwide live in places with polluted air, and 91% of the world’s population breathes in polluted air every single day.
- Emissions must decline 7.6 percent annually from 2020 to 2030 to keep temperatures from surpassing 1.5°C and 2.7 percent per year to stay below 2°C.
- Preserving ecosystems is often more cost-effective than human-made interventions. In the Maldives, conserving the natural coral reef is four times cheaper than constructing a sea wall for coastal protection, even after ten years of upkeep costs.
- The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have declined in mass. Data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment demonstrate that Greenland lost an average of 279 billion tons of ice year after year between 1993 and 2019, while Antarctica lost about 148 billion tons of ice annually.
- The price of inactivity on climate change is anticipated to exceed $44 trillion by 2060, with the Middle East, Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa, and South and Southeast Asia experiencing tremendous GDP losses.
- The International Organisation on Migration assumes that up to 200 million people could be displaced by climate change by 2050.
- Over 1 million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals are slaughtered by pollution every year.
- More than 8 million people, which is 1 in every 5 global deaths, die prematurely from fossil fuel-based pollution every year.
- We utilize the equivalent of 1.6 Earths to maintain our contemporary lifestyle, and ecosystems cannot keep up with our requests.
- In the last century, the global ocean level surged by around 8 inches (20 centimeters). Conversely, in the recent two decades, the rate has roughly doubled that of the previous century and slightly increases each year.
- By 2030, climate change may be unstoppable. As shown in a UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, immediate action is required to avert the disastrous implications of global warming.
- The Mississippi River carries an estimated 1.5 million metric tons of nitrogen pollution into the Gulf of Mexico each year, creating a “dead zone” in the Gulf each summer about the size of New Jersey.
- 80 percent of carbon emissions are attributed to the world’s 20 wealthiest countries.
- In 2018, 14 extreme-weather events resulted in more than $1 billion in damages.
- Methane, the primary element of natural gas, is responsible for more than 25 percent of the warming we are experiencing today.
- The acidity of surface and subsurface ocean waters has grown by around 30% since the onset of the Industrial Revolution. This rise is due to humans putting more carbon dioxide into the air, which is captured by the ocean in significant volumes. In recent decades, the ocean has assimilated between 20% and 30% of global anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions (7.2 to 10.8 billion metric tons per year).
- Each year 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage, stormwater, and industrial waste are dumped into American water.
- Sea levels have increased by 9 inches over the past century.
- Deforestation contributes to global warming. Trees benefit the environment by absorbing CO2, but they return it to the atmosphere upon decaying or burning. Nearly 40% of Earth’s land surface has been converted for human use; as a result, more carbon dioxide has been released into the biosphere at the same time, with fewer trees remaining to absorb it.
- Paleoclimatology, or the analysis of climate change over time, uses data from tree rings, ocean deposits, coral reefs, and strata of sedimentary rocks to show that current warming is around ten times quicker than post-ice age warming.
- From 1950 to 2017, humans delivered an estimated 9.2 billion tons of plastic, 7 billion tons of which have become waste.
- Colder parts of the planet are becoming hotter as a result of global warming, making them more susceptible to disease.
- The climate crisis causes extreme weather events that kill or displace thousands and result in economic losses measured in the trillions.
- By 2030, climate change might force up to 132 million people into poverty.
- While no single reason can be identified for extreme weather, climate scientists are increasingly looking for human fingerprints in floods, heat waves, droughts, and cyclones. Humans were responsible for two-thirds of extreme weather events in the last 20 years.
- The ice in the Arctic is rapidly melting. Summers in the region are predicted to be entirely ice-free by 2040, if not sooner.
- Carbon dioxide isn’t the sole gas that contributes to global warming. Methane and nitrous oxide, for example, are significantly more hazardous than carbon dioxide alone.
- According to scientists, hundreds of plant and animal species are projected to go extinct every day, approximately 1,000 times the natural rate. By the middle of the century, 30 to 50 percent of all species on the planet will have vanished.
- Health is a priority area in most countries sensitive to climate change. However, there is still a significant financial disparity. Health projects receive less than 2% of multilateral climate money.
- Coral reefs are bleaching to unprecedented levels as a result of global warming and water contamination, with the worst levels of damage and death since 1980.
- The last ten years have been the hottest in the last 125,000 years.
- Annually, about 7 million people die prematurely due to air pollution, accounting for one out of every nine deaths. Impure air is inhaled by nine out of ten individuals, making it the most severe environmental health threat of our time.
- A recent analysis issued in the scientific journal nature cautioned that, in a warming world, dengue could spread to the US, higher altitudes in central Mexico, inland Australia and large coastal cities in eastern China and Japan.
- The Golden Toad is the first species (but not last) to become extinct due to global warming. Climate change has put half of all amphibians at risk of extinction in recent years.
- The global passenger car fleet now surpasses 539 million vehicles and grows by 9 million vehicles annually.
- Humans are ejecting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere quicker than the absorbing rates of plants and the seas.
- Tropical cyclone rainfall rates will likely grow due to anthropogenic warming and increased atmospheric moisture content.
- The Northern and Southern polar regions are heating up at the rate of three times the global average.
- Because of climate change, many areas worldwide have seen substantial growth in the number of wildfires over the last several decades. Spring-summer temperatures in the American West were 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit higher between 1987 and 2003 than in the previous 15 years. There were four times as many wildfires during the same time, many of which were at higher altitudes.
- Annual plastic waste entering aquatic ecosystems could nearly triple from 9-14 million tons in 2016 to 23-37 million tons by 2040.
- Every hour, 1,692 acres of productive dry land become desert.
- The Earth last had a nearly equivalent concentration of carbon dioxide about 3-5 million years ago, when the atmospheric temperature was 2-3°C warmer, and the ocean level was 10-20 meters higher.
- Pollen and aeroallergen’s high levels also lead to rising temperatures. This can cause asthma, which affects 300 million people worldwide.
- Every 40 hours, Antarctica loses one billion metric tons of ice.
- Global warming will completely alter the ocean’s conveyer belt, which will cause a mini ice age in Europe.
To Wrap Up
Our biosphere is a lovely environment that has supported all life on the planet for millions of years. Despite the fact that human involvement has caused significant damage, we still have a chance to improve things. It is essential to realize that climate change has an unexplored workaround: nature.
Climate change’s terrible effects are nature’s way of warning us that the worst is yet to come. What we do now, tomorrow, and in the coming weeks and months will determine whether we avoid climate disasters and construct a tomorrow that benefits all earth dwellers.
On the occasion of the 47th World Environment Day, let us pledge to minimize our carbon footprint and promote sustainable habits.
(Last Updated on June 3, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)