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Climate Change Is Already Affecting Almost Everyone on Earth

Oct. 12, 2021 — The effects of climate change span the globe and have reached an overwhelming majority of people on Earth in the form of coastal flooding, wildfires, and other climate-related events, new findings suggest.

Using a special computer program to analyze the sizeable amount of data on climate change, researchers report that about 85% of people have felt its effects, according toresults published Monday in Nature Climate Change.

To come to this conclusion, scientists fed published summaries of more than 100,000 studies on climate change into a computer trained to identify key information. The computer mapped that information onto a global grid of data on local temperature and precipitation changes that are linked to human activity.

The maps show where these precipitation and temperature shifts — both of which are measures of climate change — were likely connected to climate-related outcomes such as drought, floods, fires, and even human health.

The results suggest that 80% of the Earth’s land, not including Antarctica, is experiencing climate change because of human activity — at least in part. Almost all the temperature shifts are toward warming, though precipitation changes are mixed, with increases in some areas and declines in others.

Compared with low-income countries, high-income countries had about double the amount of solid evidence for the human factor in climate change, the researchers found. That said, one possible explanation for why the roughly 20% of land mass where human-induced effects were seemingly weaker — like in western Africa and some parts of Asia — is that these areas have been less scrutinized by scientists, the study authors said.

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