The heat is on: Climate change's impact on world explained in numbers

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As nations continue to debate on the reasons of, and solutions to, climate change, data repeatedly corroborates the intensity of it. Mean temperatures have been rising gradually with cyclical ups and downs. From hovering near 25 degrees Celsius a century ago, annual mean temperature in India is kissing 26 degrees Celsius regularly in recent years, shows Chart 1. 

Its impact on human life is starkly visible. Human deaths due to heat waves went through the roof in the 2012-2015 period, prompting the government to formulate a heat action plan. This increased awareness, improved reporting of heat waves and reduced extreme heat-related deaths, reveals Chart 2. 

The faster melting of ice in the Himalayan region has always been a kind of benchmark to substantiate global warming effects. In the last five years, the area under glacial lakes — which are formed due to melting ice — has been rising faster and faster, evident in Chart 3. This exacerbates the possibility of flooding in sub-Himalayan regions. Chart 4 shows that the last four years have witnessed an extended period of near below normal rainfall. 

Ninety-six per cent is the lower end of categorising a year as “normal” rain year.

As to the impact on wildlife in general, Chart 5 shows more and more species are getting threatened across the globe. India has slowly been increasing its area under reserved forests — national parks and wildlife sanctuaries — as Chart 6 reveals. However, one indicator raises questions about the improvement. Tiger deaths are rising rapidly, and more than 100 of them die annually in these reserved forests now, shows Chart 7.                                 

StatsGuru is a weekly feature. Every Monday, Business Standard guides you through the numbers you need to know to make sense of the headlines. Compiled by BS Research Bureau         

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