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The State of Our Environment 2020

Posted by Pawan Saunya on

News of varying environmental issues comes across our screens everyday. Because the environment is ever-changing and our impact on it is ever-evolving, it’s hard to keep up with where we stand with many of these environmental issues. Here’s a breakdown of the state of our environment in 2020. 

Climate Change

  • 2019 was .95 degrees celsius warmer than the 20th century average

  • Atmospheric carbon concentrations are at an all time high 

  • 19 of the 20 warmest years have all occurred since 2001

  • Arctic sea ice is declining at a rate of 12.85% per decade 

  • Sea levels are steadily rising, with each inch of sea-level rise moving the ocean 50 to 100 inches inland

  • Indonesia is having to move its capital city because the current one is sinking

  • The U.N. says the world is on track for up to 3.9 degrees celsius warming by 2100 

  • In 2018, just 15% of world energy consumption is from renewable energy 

  • This past January was the warmest on record, putting 2020 on track to be one of the top 10 warmest years in history 

  • This warming is increasing storm intensity and making weather patterns more variable


  • The world is losing an area of forest the size of the UK every year

  • 17% of the Amazon has been destroyed in the past 50 years

  • Cattle ranching and soy production are the two largest contributors to deforestation in the Amazon

  • In tropical and subtropical countries, 73% of deforestation is linked to agriculture

  • Soy producing countries are rapidly being deforested, mostly to grow soy for livestock 

  • Deforestation is the second largest source of human carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere

  • Stopping deforestation could have the same carbon impact as removing all cars off earth

Biodiversity Loss

  • Average wildlife populations have dropped by 60% over the past 40 years

  • Nearly two dozen species were declared extinct in 2019, but the total number of species lost was probably in the thousands

  • Over half of the worlds biodiversity is gone, and this percentage is continuing to rise

  • Increased temperatures from climate change will hurt biodiversity 

Water Scarcity 

  • Water scarcity impacts one in three people

  • One in nine people lack access to safe water 

  •  60% of water used in agriculture is wasted due to leaky irrigation 

  • Have of the world’s wetlands have been destroyed since 1990 

Plastic Pollution 

  • 8 million pieces of plastic find their way into our oceans every day 

  • 12.7 million tons of plastic enters the ocean each year

  • 7.9% of the 8.3 billion tons of plastic that has been produced since 1950s has ended up in landfills or oceans 

  • Drink companies produce 500 billion single-use plastic bottles annually 

  • Starbucks produces 4 billion disposable coffee cups each year

So, what can you do? 

  • Vote, protest, call your politicians, and be generally politically active 

  • Vote with your dollars each and every day 

  • Write and call environmentally unsustainable companies and encourage them to change their policies

  • Eat less meat 

  • Carry around a zero waste kit to avoid creating waste on the go 

  •  Buy used items when possible


Kayla Guilliams

is the blog manager for Zero Waste Club, combining her love for writing with her passion for all things environmental sustainability. She is currently a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she is studying journalism, environmental studies, and food studies in hopes of building a career in environmental activism. You can find her on Instagram as @kaylaguilliams.


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