Half of life on the planet, at “high risk” due to the climate crisis

The advance of the climate crisis has put half of the living species on the planet at risk, from animals and plants to human populations. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that at this time about 3.6 billion people, the equivalent of half of the planet’s population, live in “contexts that are highly vulnerable to climate change”. He also claims that half of the animal species on the planet they have already been forced to migrate to shelter from the effects of rising global temperatures and rising sea levels.

The report, presented this Monday, takes the signing of 67 top-level scientists from almost seventy countries, among which several Spanish authors also stand out. The analysis is based on more than 40,000 bibliographic references, studies and research that cover practically every corner of the planet. As explained by its authors, it is the largest report on the impacts of the climate crisis published to date; a document that provides a complete diagnosis of the problem and which, in turn, could be key to designing the ecological transition policies necessary to stop this crisis.


The information you will read below talks about the present and the future of the climate crisis. The data presented can be especially shocking for people who are sensitive, apprehensive or have anxiety problems. If this is your case, remember to approach this information taking care of your mental health. If at any point in the reading you feel overwhelmed, for example, save the link and come back later. Doses the information. Share your feelings with friends and family. Seek support from environmental groups. Feeling fear, anguish and anger about the climate crisis is normal. “It is a set of feelings that serve as a prelude to the awakening of an ecological conscience“, Explain Caroline HickmannPsychotherapist of the Climate Psychology Alliance.

These are the main conclusions of the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

More serious damage than estimated

The first conclusion of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is that “human-induced climate change” has not only altered the Earth’s climate, it has also caused “Widespread adverse impacts, loss and damage both in nature and people”. The report notes that the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events has increased in recent decades. increase in areas affected by fires, hurricanes and sea level rise. In this sense, the experts consider that “scope and magnitude“of the climate crisis are”greater than estimated in previous evaluations“.

The report estimates that between 3.3 and 3.6 billion people currently live in “contexts highly vulnerable to climate change“. On a global scale, the regions most affected by this crisis coincide with the poorest areas of the global south on the planet. On a regional scale, the victims of climate change also coincide with the most marginalized groups with less economic capacity. The report places special emphasis on the contexts of “climate vulnerability” caused by social inequalities, as well as by historical patterns such as colonialism, which put indigenous populations and small local communities at risk. In the last decade, without going any further, it is estimated that mortality from floods, droughts and extreme storms has been 15 times higher in highly vulnerable regions compared to others with low risk.

Biodiversity losses

One of the most worrying points in this new report proves that “climate change has caused damage and increasingly serious and irreversible losses in terrestrial, marine, freshwater, coastal and open ocean” ecosystems around the globe. Scientists confirm that approximately half of the species evaluated worldwide have had to move towards the poles, or in general towards places cooler, to escape the global rise in temperatures.Studies on the ground confirm the “loss of hundreds of local species” and “mass mortality episodes” due to extremes of heat in terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

In the short term, scientists warn that the climate crisis will mean a “very high risk” for biodiversity loss in different ecosystems of the planet. Of particular concern is the damage to terrestrial ecosystems, to the warm waters that are home to coral reefs, and to the Arctic sea ice. The scientific community estimates that if the global temperature rises three degrees, which right now seems the most likely scenario, 30% of the planet’s species would be at risk of extinction. In the case of endemic specieswhich are only found in specific ecosystems, it is estimated that the climate crisis could practically decimate their population.

Food safety in check

The scientific community confirms that “climate change has reduced water and food security” of much of humanity. Both the production agriculture such as fishing They are decreasing due to the increase in temperature and the acidification of the waters. The “sudden losses in the ability to obtain food” and the “decrease in diversity in the diet”, according to the experts, is already causing a increased malnutrition in many communities in the global south. The most affected places include Africa, Asia, Central and South America, the Arctic and small islands.

The report estimates that about half of the world’s population currently experiences a severe water shortage during at least part of the year due to climatic factors. It is also estimated that, due to the climate crisis, the production of the three main world crops (corn, wheat and rice) has fallen by 5% globally and that the net productivity of all foods has fallen by more than 20%. These figures, far from being homogeneous, have an even greater impact on impoverished communities that lack the capacity to adapt to climatic extremes.

Human health risks

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change affirms, emphatically, that the climate crisis “has already negatively affected the physical health of people around the world“. The report notes that episodes of extreme heat have caused a increased mortality in all regions of the globe. There is also an increase in diseases related to poor water quality or the global increase in temperatures, as in the case of the dengue, malaria and cholera. While the world has not yet managed to get rid of covid-19, scientists warn that due to climate change it will also increasing risk of new zoonotic diseases emerging that ‘jump’ from animals to humans.

According to experts, the advance of the climate crisis also poses a risk to the mental health of the population. Especially for people who have been traumatized by the impact of an extreme weather event or the population that, due to previous pathologies, are especially vulnerable to extreme heat, exposure to high levels of pollution or allergens. Heat wave episodes, for example, stand out as a high risk factor for patients with cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

time to act

The diagnosis of the Intergovernmental Panel of Experts on Climate Change concludes with a glimmer of hope: “Have been observed advances in the planning and implementation of adaptation plans to climate change across all sectors and regions, which is already generating multiple benefits.” Still, experts point out that these strategies are being applied unevenly and that, today, there remain many “adaptation gaps” in the world. Likewise, scientists denounce that many initiatives are focusing on the short term leaving aside the need for a comprehensive transformation.

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The report concludes with a stark reminder that “society’s decisions and actions implemented over the next decade” will largely determine how severe the progress of climate change. Ultimately, as scientists and environmental organizations claim, what the planet will be like at the end of the century will depend on the actions taken now.

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