Six terrifying climate change numbers and how you can help solve them

27 September 2019

Halloween is a spooky time usually reserved for ghost stories and haunting amounts of chocolate. But given our position in world history, it’s worth casting a thought towards the truly terrifying state of our environment, and more importantly, what we can do to make it better.

 Here are our top climate change numbers that will send shivers up your spine this Halloween:

Number one: 414.83

A seemingly innocuous number, 414.83 (ppm) is the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) measured in our atmosphere as of May 2019. This is the highest it has been in three million years according to

Carbon dioxide is one of the most prevalent greenhouse gasses produced by human activity. We have increased the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere by almost a third since the start of the industrial revolution. This is important because CO2 and other greenhouse gasses block the sun's heat from escaping back into space after it has been reflected by the earth. This creates a 'greenhouse effect' whereby our atmosphere reflects the heat back towards the earth causing the globe to warm up. We now know that this artificial warming has devastating consequences for our natural environment.

Number two: 1- 6 feet

One to six feet is the average amount the sea level is expected to rise before the end of this century, according to studies by NASA, the University of Massachusetts and Penn State University. This will largely be the result of a wide scale melting of Arctic and Antarctic ice due to increased temperatures.

Rising sea levels will quickly become a problem for many seaside or low lying cities (think London, Sydney and New York). Significant sea defences or, more likely, mass evacuation may well have to be carried out as a result of these changes.

Number three: 50%

According to the WWF, if we continue our current pace of global average temperature rise, it will put approximately half of all plants and animals at risk of extinction.

This one speaks for itself. Not only will this be devastatingly sad for generations to come, the lack of biodiversity associated with so much loss would destroy our current systems of food production.

Number four: 4,600 square miles

This is the amount of coral reefs scientists are predicting will be lost as a result of severe coral bleaching - this translates to 5% of existing coral reefs. 2015-2018 saw a relentless period of bleaching thought to be caused by climate change and El Niño. This is on top of the loss of almost 50% of the world's coral reefs over the last 30 years (according to the National Geographic and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

Number five: 250,000

This is the number of additional deaths per year the World Health Organisation predicts will be caused by climate change in 2030-2050. They predict that most of these deaths will be the result of:

  • Malnutrition: As droughts reduce the quality of farmland, and biodiversity losses decrease the crop varieties that we can grow (passive), there will be a drop in food production.
  • Heat stress: Summer temperatures in some areas will increase to dangerous levels. 
  • Malaria and diarrhoea: Hotter average temperatures and lack of clean water will increase the prevalence of tropical diseases and waterborne illnesses.

Number six: $44 trillion

The expected monetary amount that inaction on climate change will cost by 2060. Currently, the highest anticipated GDP losses are in the Middle-East, Northern, and Sub-Saharan Africa, and South and Southeast Asia, according to The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

What can you do?

These facts are undeniably horrifying, but the battle is not yet lost and there is plenty that individuals can do to help tackle climate change. These include:

  1. Cut down your car usage: It's easier said than done, but the carbon emissions created when you use your vehicle are extensive. Furthermore, cutting your car usage has the potential to make you healthier and save you some money. Consider using public transport where possible, particularly for your daily commute. Cycling or walking for short journeys also are good alternatives.
  2. Try to eat less meat: Meat (particularly red meat) production contributes a significant amount of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Try to reduce the amount you eat overall by opting for meat-free days. Growing your own food and not wasting the food you do buy are also valuable steps to take.
  3. Reduce your home energy usage: Wasting energy isn't just bad for your bills, it also uses up valuable resources and contributes to your carbon footprint. An easy first step is switching off any appliances or lights when you are not using them. For more significant home repairs, consider buying the most efficient energy options, for example solar panels and better insulation.
  4. Support green initiatives: Some changes have to be bigger than your personal lifestyle, so think about supporting green initiatives at a political scale. This could be voting in local and national elections, or contributing your views and ideas through groups and communities.
  5. Invest in sustainable funds: Responsible investing allows you to build your financial future without destroying the environment. For example, Local Government Super employs both negative and positive screening to give investors a diverse range of responsible assets. This means that your money is working for you whilst also helping to support exciting sustainable innovations.

To learn more about Local Government Super's role in supporting the environment and our diverse range of investing options, get in touch with the team today.

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