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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


Deforestation

  • 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


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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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