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Summary

The effects of global climate change include higher temperatures, increases in precipitation patterns, rising sea levels, weather-related disasters, increased drought, and increased disease, and food insecurity.1,2 The annual global temperature has increased 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1880s and two-thirds of the entire warming process has occurred since 1975. 3 On September 17, 2014, the Arctic’s sea ice cover reached its minimum extent at 5.02 million square kilometers.4 This is the lowest recorded extent since 1979, when satellites first began tracking sea ice measures.5 Studies show that low-income and developing countries will be hit hardest by the effects of climate change.6,7 Third world countries face threats to their wellbeing and agricultural and economic livelihoods, such as droughts, monsoons, and cyclones.8 Along with climate change, deforestation is another serious threat to the global environment. Over 30% of the earth is covered in forests, and 1.6 billion people depend on forests for food, shelter, and clothing.9 However, deforestation is occurring rapidly and 46-58 thousand square miles of forests are lost annually.10 Forests are critical in absorbing harmful carbon emissions and 15% of greenhouse gas emissions result from the loss of trees and forests.11 Animal extinction and loss of biodiversity also negatively impact the environment. More than 500 million people around the world depend on the coral reefs for food, jobs, storm protection, and income.12 However, nearly 70% of the worlds coral reefs have been destroyed or are threatened.13 Additionally, of the world’s 5,490 mammal species, over 1,000 are endangered or highly vulnerable and nearly 80 are already extinct.14 This loss of biodiversity will limit the treatment of many diseases and health problems and will result in the scarcity of food and freshwater worldwide and a loss of agriculture and livestock.15 Air pollution results from emissions from factories, households, cars and trucks and fine particulate matter from pollution contributes to 16% of deaths from cancer worldwide, as well as 11% of COPD deaths and 20% of instances of heart disease and stroke.16 Low and middle income countries are disproportionately affected by air pollution.17 Over seven million deaths worldwide are linked to exposure to air pollution, making air pollution the world’s largest environmental health risk.18 1 http://data.worldbank.org/topic/climate-change 2 http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/urgentissues/global-warming-climate-change/help/facts-about-climate-change.xml 3 http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/WorldOfChange/decadaltemp.php 4 http://nsidc.org/news/newsroom/arctic-sea-ice-reaches-minimum-extent-2014 5 Ibid 6 http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/energy_around_the_world/2013/11/warsaw_climate_talks_developing_countries_will_be_source_of_greenhouse_gas.html 7 http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/sep/27/climate-change-poor-countries-ipcc 8 Ibid 9 http://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation 10 Ibid 11 Ibid 12 https://www.iucn.org/iyb/about/biodiversity_crisis/ 13 Ibid 14 Ibid 15http://www.who.int/globalchange/ecosystems/biodiversity/en/ 16 http://www.who.int/gho/phe/outdoor_air_pollution/en/ 17 Ibid 18 http://www.who.int/phe/health_topics/outdoorair/databases/en/

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