Facts about climate change
- Although climate change has only become a common newsworthy topic recently, climate change has been studied for decades. In the first World Climate Conference, in 1979, the need to “foresee and prevent potential man-made changes in climate” was already considered an urgent issue;
- Climate change caused by humans (anthropogenic) is not just a future concern: nowadays, meteorologic extremes like heat waves and intense precipitation are already worsening on every part of the globe;
- As temperature increases, changes in climate get increasingly worse in frequency and intensity;
- The last decade was probably the hottest of the last 125,000 years, and the years 2016 and 2020 were the warmest years on record;
- Sea level rise is caused by a warming of the climate system, which results in thermal expansion of the oceans and melting of ice sheets on land.
- Occasional reductions in greenhouse gas emissions (that result, for example, from the COVID-19 pandemic or from financial crises) have a negligible effect on the global warming trajectory;
- Climate change can manifest itself differently in different parts of the world. For example, changes in annual mean precipitation are very heterogeneous depending on the location: an increase is projected to occur in high latitudes and in the equatorial Pacific, while in the subtropics (where Portugal is located) a substantial decrease is projected;
- In the European Union, the economic losses caused by a higher frequency of extreme climate events already surpass 12 billion € per year;
- It is estimated that, between 2030 and 2050, climate change will cause 250,000 additional deaths every year worldwide, caused by malnutrition, thermal stress and diseases like malaria;
- Climate change adaptation can be autonomous (or spontaneous) when it occurs as a response to climate events without planning nor a conscious purpose to deal with climate change. On the other hand, adaptation is considered planned when political decisions are made with the intrinsic knowledge that there are changes happening to the usual climate conditions.
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