Climate change may already affect 85 percent of humanity
Researchers comb through some 100,000 studies documenting climate change’s effects around the planet.
Climate change could already be affecting 85 percent of the world’s population, an analysis of tens of thousands of scientific studies found.
The analysis, released on Monday, was carried out by a team of researchers that used machine learning to comb through vast troves of research published between 1951 and 2018 and found some 100,000 papers that potentially documented evidence of climate change’s effects on the Earth’s systems.
“We have overwhelming evidence that climate change is affecting all continents, all systems,” study author Max Callaghan told the AFP news agency in an interview.
He added there was a “huge amount of evidence” showing the ways in which these effects are being felt.
The researchers taught a computer to identify climate-relevant studies, generating a list of papers on topics from disrupted butterfly migration to heat-related human deaths to forestry cover changes.
The studies only rarely established a direct link to global warming – so Callaghan and teams from the Mercator Research Institute and Climate Analytics, both in Berlin, took on the task themselves.
Using location data from the studies, they divided the globe into a grid and mapped where documented climate impacts matched climate-driven trends in temperature and precipitation.
For each grid cell they asked, “Is it getting hotter or colder or wetter or dryer outside of the bounds of natural variability?” said Callaghan.
Then, he said, they checked if this type of change matched expectations from climate models.
They found 80 percent of the globe – home to 85 percent of the world’s population, had generated impact studies that matched predictions for temperature and precipitation changes due to global warming.
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