How climate has changed Earth


By Seth Borenstein, AP

WASHINGTON — In the more than two decades since world leaders first got together to try to solve global warming, life on Earth has changed, not just the climate. It’s gotten hotter, more polluted with heat-trapping gases, more crowded and just downright wilder.

The numbers are stark. Carbon dioxide emissions: up 60 percent. Global temperature: up six-tenths of a degree. Population: up 1.7 billion people. Sea level: up 3 inches. U.S. extreme weather: up 30 percent. Ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica: down 4.9 trillion tons of ice.

“Simply put, we are rapidly remaking the planet and beginning to suffer the consequences,” says Michael Oppenheimer, professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University.

Diplomats from more than 190 nations opened talks Monday at a United Nations global warming conference in Lima, Peru, to pave the way for an international treaty they hope to forge next year.

To see how much the globe has changed since the first such international conference — the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 — the Associated Press scoured databases from around the world. The analysis, which looked at data since 1983, concentrated on 10-year intervals ending in 1992 and 2013. This is because scientists say single years can be misleading and longer trends are more telling.

Our changing world by the numbers:

Wild weather

Since 1992, there have been more than 6,600 major climate, weather and water disasters worldwide, causing more than $1.6 trillion in damage and killing more than 600,000 people, according to the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters in Belgium, which tracks the world’s catastrophes.

While climate-related, not all can be blamed on man-made warming or climate change. Still, extreme weather has noticeably increased over the years, says Debby Sapir, who runs the center and its database. From 1983 to 1992 the world averaged 147 climate, water and weather disasters each year. Over the past 10 years, that number has jumped to an average 306 a year.

In the United States, an index of climate extremes — hot and cold, wet and dry — kept by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has jumped 30 percent from 1992 to 2013, not counting hurricanes, based on 10-year averages.

NOAA also keeps track of U.S. weather disasters that cost more than $1 billion, when adjusted for inflation. Since 1992, there have been 136 such billion-dollar events.

Worldwide, the 10-year average for weather-related losses adjusted for inflation was $30 billion a year from 1983-92, according to insurance giant Swiss Re. From 2004 to 2013, the cost was more than three times that on average, or $131 billion a year.

Sapir and others say it would be wrong to pin all, or even most, of these increases on climate change alone. Population and poverty are major factors, too. But they note a trend of growing extremes and more disasters, and that fits with what scientists have long said about global warming.

It’s this increase that’s “far scarier” than the simple rise in temperatures, University of Illinois climate scientist Donald Wuebbles says.


It’s almost a sure thing that 2014 will go down as the hottest year in 135 years of record keeping, meteorologists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center say. If so, this will be the sixth time since 1992 that the world set or tied a new annual record for the warmest year.

The globe has broken six monthly heat records in 2014 and 47 since 1992. The last monthly cold record set was in 1916.


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Comments (20)
  1. Big Fish says - Posted: December 4, 2014

    cosa–everyone is waiting for you to chime in……..

  2. Gaspen Aspen says - Posted: December 4, 2014

    The planet has cycles. It happens and we little insects cannot stop it. Get over yourselves….yes there are several countries refusing to change. Go figure who they are….they have so many people and their economy is booming so they say no to helping the planet. They have little regard for human life or the ecology of the planet.

  3. cosa pescado says - Posted: December 4, 2014

    Lazy argument. Within cycles we can identify ‘unnatural’ forcing.

  4. A.B. says - Posted: December 4, 2014

    Another day, another article advancing the false narrative of global warming.

    Fortunately, the vast majority of this nation recognizes that Global Warming is nothing but an excuse by the federal government to redistribute wealth, create new bureaucracies, and increase taxes.

    Folks, the climate has been changing since the beginning of time.

    If you think that your activities on earth are having an impact, lead by example, and stop driving, stop heating your home, stop buying food in grocery stores, and whatever you do, do not ever get onboard an evil airplane.

  5. Justice says - Posted: December 4, 2014

    The dinosaurs, if they could, would argue that their demise as brought on by one of the single biggest climate change events in geologic history is a far greater threat and that release of CO2 was much greater than man’s and a mass extinction event of that magnitude without man’s involvement would tend to discount modern guesses that man’s impact is comparable or anywhere near as dangerous or greater than other historic planetary events. It is really an attempt of those who seek to use political leftism and these cap and trade taxes via government control under the guise of science and would only apply to the few nations who tolerate this false science.

  6. Hmmm... says - Posted: December 4, 2014

    We(humans) are the one’s causing that ‘mass extinction’ for many of the planets species. Not in the dim and distant past, but in our lifetimes.

    some pseudo scientists sure can see far with their heads so firmly shoved up their…er, uh I mean IN …the sand.

  7. Atomic says - Posted: December 5, 2014

    Another day , yet another way A.B. manages to be wrong about everything. That well is bottomless.

  8. yobobbyb says - Posted: December 5, 2014

    RSS satellite data shows that the earth hasn’t warmed in 18 years and 2 months, not since October of 1996. Arctic and Antarctic ice masses have grown. Polar bears are doing just fine.

    Warmists have been unable to explain the “great pause” as their computer models could not predict it. A story today reports that the California drought is more severe than any other suffered in the last 1200 years. Can you imagine that? California was suffering droughts as far back as 1200 years ago. The climate was changing 1200 years ago? Who would have thought.

  9. legal beagle says - Posted: December 5, 2014

    Figures lie and liars figure.

  10. copper says - Posted: December 5, 2014

    The troposphere has warmed and the stratosphere cooled – precisely as global climate scientists have predicted. Look it up.

  11. legal beagle says - Posted: December 5, 2014

    Even if that is true what about all the other predications of climate horror that are not happening and in fact going the opposite direction.

  12. Really?? says - Posted: December 5, 2014

    Regardless of what anyone on this post says, Nature bats last. For “real world” data on global warming–if you are put off by scientists–check out the most recent Pentagon report and the actions of the big insurance companies.

  13. Cranky Gerald says - Posted: December 5, 2014

    The problem is so blatantly obvious:

    It is GOD causing all this confusion.

    The right wingers, some of the left wingers the GOP and the Muslims have really pissed HER off.

    “Retribution is mine sayeth the Lord”

  14. cosa pescado says - Posted: December 5, 2014

    ‘and in fact going the opposite direction.

    name one.

  15. Kevin Murphy says - Posted: December 5, 2014

    “Fortunately, the vast majority of this nation…” A.B. you forgot to mention that the “nation” you refer to is FoxNation. This is the willfully ignorant bubble of misinformation where the vociferous minority of the lunatic fringe reside.
    The debate is no longer about whether anthropogenic climate change is real, rather it is about what to do about it as a cognizant species.

  16. Oliver K. Manuel says - Posted: December 5, 2014

    My PhD research mentor – the late Professor Paul Kazuo Kuroda – saw that the nuclear force [1] that powers atomic bombs and nuclear reactors is also the one that makes elements in stars !

    The well-known Hungarian Professor of Nuclear and Radiochemistry – Dr. Tibor Braun – recently described Kuroda as “The Nuclear Chemist Who Foresaw the Past: Paul Kazuo Kuroda and the Oklo Paleoreactors” [2],

    Kuroda assigned a research project in 1960 to reveal to the public:The same source of nuclear energy powers the Sun, sustains Earth’s climate and all life in the solar system today [3].

    1. P. K. Kuroda, The Origin of the Chemical Elements and the Oklo Phenomenon (Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 1982, 165 pages)

    2. Tibor Braun, “The Nuclear Chemist Who Foresaw the Past: Paul Kazuo Kuroda and the Oklo Paleoreactors” (2013, 4 pages)

    3. O. K. Manuel, “Solar energy,” Advances in Astronomy (submitted 1 Sept 2014)

  17. business owner says - Posted: December 5, 2014

    Hippycrits all over this board are the same. Very open minded folks as long as you believe just like them. And if you dont, angry name calling.

    What ever happened to the hockey stick gore talked about…shouldnt we all be dead by now?

  18. legal beagle says - Posted: December 5, 2014

    Slight correction, Oliver, it is fission that powers atom bombs and nuclear reactors and it is fusion that powers the sun and other stars.

  19. cosa pescado says - Posted: December 5, 2014

    “What ever happened to the hockey stick gore talked about…shouldnt we all be dead by now?”

    Obviously you failed to interpret the data properly. You did however provide evidence in support of the notion that stupid questions do exist.

    “Slight correction…”
    They never specified fission or fusion. Just nuclear.
    Slight correction of the slight correction, fusion has also been used in bombs (using fission as the instigator, so it isn’t a pure fusion bomb).

    I also noticed that you did not provide anything to supplement your statement: “and in fact going the opposite direction.”

  20. rock4tahoe says - Posted: December 6, 2014

    There is a Cat 5 Hurricane heading toward the Philippines in December. Yes, this is a “weather” event but it is based on Ocean Temperatures warming to go along with rising Ocean levels.

    In other news, it looks like 2014 will be another hot year for the record books.

    Aslo, global CO2 reached a sustained level 400ppm in 2014, something not seen for about a million years or more. During the last Glaciation period, global CO2 levels were about 180 to 220ppm.