By the Numbers: Climate Change
The recent signing of the Paris Climate Change Agreement by the United States, China, and more than 170 countries signaled the first step in creating an international partnership to combat the challenges climate change poses to our planet. Moreover, this historic agreement lays the foundation for a united effort to support the transition to a clean energy economy and low carbon future.
To put this development into context, we continue our research series highlighting interesting and relevant facts that impact our community and our world. Below is some information on the effects of climate change which you may find useful.
- Earth's average temperature has risen by 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit (°F) over the past century and is projected to rise an additional 0.5 to 8.6 °F over the next 100 years .
- Average temperatures have risen between 0.26 to 0.43 °F per decade since the 1970s .
- Seven of the 10 warmest years on record for the contiguous states have occurred since 1998 and the warmest year on record was 2012 .
- In the Southwest United States, temperatures have increased by almost 2 °F in the last century and are expected to increase by an additional 3.5 to 9.5 °F by 2100 .
- From 1955 to 2015, April snow-pack declined at more than 90% in the Western U.S. .
- In April 2015, California snow-pack held only 5% of the water it typically holds at that time of year .
- Droughts are expected to increase in frequency and intensity as the region becomes more susceptible to wildfires .
- It has been at least 800,000 years since carbon dioxide (CO2) levels have been as high as they are today .
- The U.S. emitted 6.673 billion metric tons of CO2 in 2013, the vast majority coming from the burning of fossil fuels .
- 31% of CO2 emissions come from our use of electricity 
- 27% of CO2 emissions come from transportation, burning fossil fuels for our cars 
- 21% of CO2 emissions come from industry, burning fossil fuels for energy 
- 12% of CO2 emissions come from commercial and residential use 
- 9% of CO2 emissions come from agriculture 
Sea and Ice Levels:
- Scientific evidence suggests that global average sea levels changed very little over the past 2,000 years until the 20th century .
- Models based on thermal expansion and ice melt estimate that global sea levels will rise approximately 20 to 39 inches by the end of this century .
- The Greenland Ice Sheet is losing an estimated 287 billion metric tons per year .
- Antarctica has been losing about 134 billion metric tons of ice per year since 2002 .
- Between 1960 and 2014, sea level rise along parts of the U.S. coastline registered increases of more than 8 inches .
- By 2100, the sea level along California's coast is expected to rise between 17 and 66 inches .
Costs Associated with Climate Change:
- From 2006 to 2015, weather-related events associated with climate change had a price tag of $447 billion and caused 3,728 deaths in our country .
Our children deserve to inherit a world that is as prosperous as the one provided to us by our parents. If we are unable to gather the collective will to address global climate change, we run the risk of leaving our communities and our planet fundamentally damaged for future generations. Congress has a duty to learn from history and protect our planet. Our future depends on it.