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It’s worse than we thought: 15 numbers that show we’re not prepared for climate change

Left to right, top to bottom, A wildfire near in Owens Valley, Calif., Australia's Great Barrier Reef, cars stranded in a parking lot after a flash flood in Nashville, Tenn., a herder walked past the carcasses of his forty goats that died of hunger during a drought in Dertu, Wajir County, Kenya and a winter storm Irving, Texas.

The United Nations’ latest landmark climate report is a tome more than twice the length of the Bible. To compile it, hundreds of scientists from all over the world pored over thousands of studies, summarizing the latest authoritative scientific information.

Though its contents are complex and often difficult to parse, the assessment’s key message is simple: The climate crisis is upon us and that the world has utterly failed to prepare. It’s also peppered with alarming facts and figures that illustrate that urgency. Here’s a taste of what the report includes:

Percent of the world population currently exposed to potentially deadly heat for 20 or more days a year: 30


Percent that could be exposed to deadly heat for 20 or more days a year by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions continue growing at the present rate: up to 76

Number of people globally who could face chronic water scarcity by 2100 if temperature rise exceeds 2 degrees Celsius: up to 3,000,000,000

Number of people globally who will be at risk of hunger due to climate change if greenhouse emissions continue to grow at the current rate: 80,000,000

Number of people in low-income countries expected to become undernourished if greenhouse emissions grow at the current rate: 183,000,000

Surface area, in square kilometers, of glaciers on Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro in 1912: 12

Surface area of glaciers on Mount Kilimanjaro forecast to remain in 2040 if emissions continue at their current rate: 0

Number of people in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia who could be displaced by weather extremes by 2050 if greenhouse gas emissions continue growing at the present rate: 143,000,000

Number of times more people killed by droughts, floods and storms in the world’s poorest coastal countries than the richest nations: 15

Percentage of all land species that will face a high risk of extinction if the world warms by 2 degrees Celsius by 2100: 18


Percent of plant and animal species that have suffered local population extinctions linked to climate change: 47

Percent of land-based animal species at risk of extinction if temperatures rise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius: up to 14

Percent decline in marine animal populations for every degree of warming Celsius: 5

Percent decline in global yields of staple cereal crops (rice, maize and wheat) per degree of warming: 10 to 25

Number of degrees Celsius that global temperatures will rise by 2100 under current international pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions: 2.5 to 2.7

Dharna Noor can be reached at dharna.noor@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @dharnanoor.