October 22, 2021

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Climate Change Might Already Be Impacting Majority Of Human Population

Over 85 percent of the world’s population might already be experiencing some effects of climate change, according to a new analysis.

In a new paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change, a team of researchers at the Mercator Research Institute and Climate Analytics, have revealed that an overwhelming amount of evidence suggests that climate change is affecting all systems in all continents of the world.

Using a machine learning algorithm, the researchers combed through over 100,000 scientific research published between the years 1951 and 2018, that potentially documented evidence of climate change.

The algorithm was taught to identify climate-relevant papers and generate a list of all the topics identified. The list included topics such as disruption of butterfly migration, changes in forest cover, human deaths caused by heatwaves, and more.

Furthermore, the researchers divided the globe into a girded based on location data gathered from the algorithm and mapped out places that matched climate-driven trends such as temperature and precipitation with climate impacts.

For each grid, the researchers examined whether it was getting wetter or dryer, hotter or colder outside the bounds of naturally occurring variability. They also analysed if it matched the climate models.

The analysis revealed that the research papers had documented over 80 percent of the Earth and up to 85 percent of humans experiencing some form of impact from climate change.

Unsurprisingly, the researchers found that studies had overwhelmingly documented impacts of climate change in richer countries, with very few studies conducted in poorer yet highly vulnerable regions of the world.

“But we won’t have many studies documenting the impacts of those trends,” said Max Callaghan, lead author of the paper, in an AFP interview. “It is a blind spot in our knowledge of climate impacts”.

Research exploring climate-related impacts has grown exponentially in recent years. According to Callaghan, between the years 1951 and 1990, there were only a total of 1,500 studies. In contrast, the last five years have seen over 75,000 studies documenting the impacts of climate change.

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