Earth Day – the statistics

The numbers are in and they aren’t good. Here are some facts and figures to ponder this Earth Day.

Arrow Red

1.9 F since 1880

Global temperature




Arrow Blue

12.85% per decade

Arctic ice is declining



800 million people

11% of the world’s population is currently vulnerable to climate change impacts such as droughts, floods, heat waves, extreme weather events and rising sea levels.


1 million hectares lost

An area of coastal ecosystems larger than New York City is destroyed every year, removing an important buffer from extreme weather for coastal communities and releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.


Save nature: It’s cheaper

Conserving ecosystems is often more cost-effective than human-made interventions. In the Maldives, building a sea wall for coastal protection cost about US$2.2 billion. Even after 10 years of maintenance costs, it is still four times cheaper to preserve the natural reef.

Extreme Events

Since 1950, the number of record-high temperature events in the United States has been increasing, while the number of record-low temperature events has been decreasing. The U.S. also has witnessed increasing numbers of intense rainfall events.


412 parts per million

Carbon dioxide levels in the air are the highest in 650,000 years.


The Amazon is a carbon-storing powerhouse

In the Amazon, 1% of tree species sequester 50% of the region’s carbon.


Arrow Orange

3.3 millimeters per year

The sea level is rising.


Arrow Green 2



413 gigatons per year

Ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland 


Sources: Conservation International, NASA

13 thoughts on “Earth Day – the statistics

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  1. I’m disgusted with our president and his buddies who are oblivious to the signs of the forthcoming destruction of the earth because they focus only on how much money they will be amassing in the next quarter.
    Michael Leland
    Orthopedic surgeon

  2. Dr. Leland’s “thoughts” are too politically motivated for a Kiwanis International article. Climate change is happening and we are not going to change it. It is a cycle. We need to address how we are going to adjust our lives to those changes rather than stop them.

    1. I’d really rather read politically motivated comments than wince at ignorant ones. I was privileged to intern 50 years ago for USS Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day. He was a genuine & wonderful guy. The senator worked well with officials of both major US parties, unlike many in office today. His peers in the senate privately voted him the most well-liked among them all. Imagine—a public servant respected for his courage, kindness & trustworthiness! What a concept!!

  3. It is disheartening that Kiwanis International, in celebrating Earth Day, highlighted stories suggesting that man-made global warming is a crisis and ignoring the wealth of current news from esteemed scientists that contradict that.

    I suggest that they give equal time to those scientists.

    There is an abundance of science they could choose from, like Dr. William Happer, a professor of physics (emeritus) at Princeton University and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

    In his “The Myth of Carbon Pollution,” he writes that “ ‘Carbon pollution’ is a propaganda slogan for the campaign against carbon dioxide . . . It is not science. Atmospheric (carbon dioxide) is not a pollutant but is essential for plant growth. Current (carbon dioxide) levels are far below optimum for most plants, and far below norms of geological history. Contrary to computer predictions, there has been no statistically significant surface warming in at least 15 years. It is now clear that the warming potential of carbon dioxide has been exaggerated by a large amount . . . There is not the slightest evidence that more (carbon dioxide) has caused more extreme weather or accelerated sea level rise. Nor is there the slightest support for the notion that government control of (carbon dioxide) will ‘stop climate change.’ ”

    Many real environmental issues need attention: smog, waste disposal, shortsighted suburban development, adequate clean water, public health, etc.

    The phony issue of “carbon pollution” is overshadowing these.

    Dennis Bussey, Kiwanis Club of Richmond, Virginia

  4. The science is clear. 97+% scientists agree that this is not a cycle, this is man made, and these facts are clear. Our mission to serve the children of the world, means we need to do something about it. As a USEPA scientist, we know that the climate crisis looms over any other environmental issue there is. Thank you Kiwanis magazine for your fine coverage, and bringing folks up to speed on the crisis we are facing. It is just as real as the COVID crisis we are under. And we have a great chance to learn from this to address the other world crisis: Climate crisis.
    These past six weeks we have seen how the absence of burning fossil fuels (carbon pollution) has cleaned up our skies, our lives and the health of our communities. More People are out in the parks, walking, biking and getting healthy. Cities are closing down streets to allow for walking and biking for the first time, commuters feel safe. If we can learn from this. Sustain this..
    we will save so many lives, reduce asthma sufferers and other respiratory illnesses. freeing us to work on other ways to improve the lives of children around the world.

  5. The 97% argument stands in opposition to this:

    “Probably the most widely repeated claim in the debate over global warming is that “97% of scientists agree” that climate change is man-made and dangerous. This claim is not only false, but its presence in the debate is an insult to science”

    The statement is authored by:
    S. Fred Singer, PhD., an atmospheric and space physicist, was one of the world’s most respected and widely published experts on climate. Dr. Singer died April 6, 2020.

    Robert M. Carter, PhD, a geologist, environmental scientist and a world-renowned authority on climate change. Dr. Carter died January 19, 2016.

    Craig D. Isdo, PhD., founder of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, a non-profit organization dedicated to discovering and disseminating scientific information pertaining to the effects of atmospheric carbon dioxide enrichment on climate and the biosphere.

    The three go on to state in their publication, “Why Scientist Disagree About Global Warming”:

    “The purported proof of such a consensus consists of sloppy research by nonscientists, college students, and a highly partisan Australian Blogger. Surveys of climate scientists, even those heavily biased in favor of climate alarmism, find extensive disagreement in the underlying science and doubts about the reliability of the 97% consensus argument.”

    Further instructive are the findings of world- renowned environmentalist and author of The Deniers Lawrence Solomon whose research revealed:

    “ … on every “headline” global warming issue, not only were there serious scientist who dissented, consistently the dissenters were more accomplished and eminent scientists.”

    Dennis Bussey, Richmond, Virginia

  6. Our children will wonder how we could ignore this terrible catastrophe. People over the centuries have created the problem of pollution and environmental destruction, but we can change if we cooperate. The current pandemic has underlined dramatically the need for people to cooperate to face a common menace.

  7. It has taken centuries to pollute the earth and threaten the environment, but we can mitigate the damage IF we cooperate. We’ve worked together to “flatten the curve.” Can’t we work together to save the planet for our children?

  8. The world is getting warmer, human activity is fueling it. The scientific community is in complete agreement. Glaciers are melting, the climate is changing. You really can’t argue against actual data, whether it it supports your ideas or not. It’s a shame climate change became so politicized.
    But it is Earth Day and we should be asking how we can help make the environment better. Do we want more coal plants near where we live, probably not. Do we want our cities to be like those in China and India, probably not. Do we really want to relax or do away with environment laws protecting our water? Evidently some would like to see our rivers catch fire again.
    Let’s celebrate what was accomplished and push for policies to make this earth better for the children of the world.

  9. Don’t know about everyone else, but I plan to still be here in 2040. However, it’s going to be very hard to continue serving the children of the world as a Kiwanian when tens, possibly hundreds, of millions of climate refugees are desperately trying to find a place they can live. Look around you, it’s happening right now around the world — Bangladesh, East Africa, Guatemala, parts of the Middle East — people are having to leave lands their families have farmed for generations as they can no longer survive there due to drought, inundation by the sea, extreme weather events, or wars aggravated by climate change. Yes, many of the refugees we hear about are victims of wars, but many of those are also climate refugees. Even if the war ended, there would be nothing for them to go back to. Today, the world can barely manage its refugee problem. Every year the climate crisis worsens will see the number of refugees grow exponentially. Within only a decade or two, i.e. by 2040, the situation will become a humanitarian nightmare. Do you want your children, your grandchildren, or even yourselves, to have to live in a world like that? If not, start taking climate change seriously and start working to change it!

  10. Very interesting discussion. Our goal at this time is to develop strategies that will create an atmosphere that enhances peace, harmony, equality and good health for our children, When we are gone they will be our future leaders; therefore, let us collectively shape the best path where they will move forward without stumbling.

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