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By the Numbers: Understanding Climate Change through Numerical Shifts

Researchers at Yale University and George Mason University that tracked public opinions about climate change in a 2018 nationwide survey found that climate change is threatening the health of Americans. Roughly 3 in 10, or 29 percent, of survey respondents said they are “very worried” about global warming, marking the highest level since the surveys began in 2008.

One was from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and found that humans have only until 2030 to stem catastrophic climate change. The other was the United States national climate assessment report, which found that climate change could shrink the US economy and kill thousands by the end of the century.

A World Health Organization report released in December found that meeting the commitments put forth in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement to tackle climate change could save millions of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars by the middle of the century.

What’s the difference between climate change and global warming?

“Global warming” refers to the long-term warming of the planet. “Climate change” encompasses global warming but refers to the broader range of changes that are happening to our planet, including rising sea levels; shrinking mountain glaciers; accelerating ice melt in Greenland, Antarctica and the Arctic; and shifts in flower/plant blooming times.

Evidence shows warming from 1998 to the present, with the four most recent years (2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017) being the four warmest years globally since 1880.

Earth’s greening — meaning the increase in areas covered by green leaves — has made the greatest gains in China and India since the mid-1990s. The effect comes mostly from ambitious tree-planting programs in China and intensive agriculture in both countries.

With no benefit to itself, Earth’s vast sea has gulped up around 30 percent of the carbon dioxide humans emitted into Earth’s atmosphere over the last century. Critically, scientists have now confirmed that the ocean in recent decades has continued its steadfast rate of CO2 absorption, rather than letting the potent greenhouse gas further saturate the skies.

The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) is a network of more than 90 of the world’s largest cities taking action to address climate change by developing and implementing policies and programs that generate measurable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks.

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