The Human Toll of Climate Change
Data Points from Around the Globe
Interactive Map: The Human Toll of Climate Change
Explore the new interactive map tracking scientific research on the impacts of climate change on human populations around the world.
Global surface temperature, now about 1 degree fahrenheit higher than 20th century averages, is expected to rise between 3.2 and 7.2 degrees fahrenheit by the end of the 21st century, with even greater increases in North America. This spike in temperature, caused by greenhouse gas emissions, endangers populations in the United States and around the world. In particular, scientists project more frequent and severe natural disasters, including hurricanes, floods, droughts, and wildfires; the spread of infectious disease such as the West Nile virus; rising sea levels that could wipe out coastal cities and towns; and declines in crop production and fish catches.
This new map provides scientific information on these threats, compiled from a variety of sources, and plots this information geographically to show areas of concern. To view this information, select the desired category or categories from the key beside the map. This will display icons on the map in locations where scientific research indicates there may be problems. Click on an icon and a box will appear providing relevant data, as well as the source for the data.
From this information, you will be able to see, among other things, that:
- The Midwest and Great Plains can expect severe spring flooding and summer droughts, decreasing crop yields in the American breadbasket.
- Stronger storms and hurricanes in the Southeast will test the resilience of homes and infrastructure.
- Disease-carrying mosquitoes and ticks will thrive in the warmer temperatures of the Northeast.
- Drier conditions in the West will significantly increase the risk of wildfires.
- Alaska is threatened by landslides and sinking land levels as arctic permafrost melts.
- Countries around the world face similar consequences as the United States, and over the long run, some may have to contend with threats to their very existence
This sort of information is essential in developing a response. Of course, we must adopt measures to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. But as the map makes clear, there is also an urgent need to strengthen infrastructure and disaster preparedness, among other steps, to account for the likely consequences of global climate change. The Center for American Progress recently urged efforts to prepare for hurricanes. To this point, however, very little has been done to protect ourselves against new weather-related threats.
The map also includes data on weather-related disasters since 2000. It cannot be known if any one of these examples is the direct result of global climate change. There is evidence, however, that such incidents are already becoming more frequent and severe. This information is provided to give a sense of the damage that can result from extreme weather events.
Outside users are also able to plot icons and add text directly to the map by clicking on the “Add a Point” button below the key. Changes to the map will appear immediately, although Science Progress reserves the right to remove or edit new points. To help take advantage of this function, we will be recruiting scientists and other experts to contribute information to the map.
If you would like to see changes to points already plotted, or if you have general suggestions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We appreciate your feedback.
Finally, it should be noted that global climate change is also expected to have severe consequences for the natural environment and other living things. Those consequences are not captured by this map. Rather, the map more narrowly focuses on dangers to people and economic well-being.
Reece Rushing is the Director of Regulatory and Information Policy at the Center for American Progress.
Comments on this article