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Facts and figures - climate change

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Overall situation

- In the past 100 years, the global average temperature has risen by about 0.74 degrees Celsius.

- The rate of change accelerated over the course of the 20th Century.

- Projections in temperature rise for the 21st century range from 2 to 4 degrees Celsius.

- It is very likely that this temperature rise is mainly caused by the emission of what are known as greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (C02) and methane. They are increasing, mainly due to the burning of fossil fuels including coal, gas and oil, deforestation, and changes in land use.

- Today the concentration of C02 is 380 ppm. This is a very sharp increase from the pre-industrial level value of about 280 ppm. It also exceeds, by far, the natural range over the past 650,000 years (180 to 300 ppm). In the past, there has been a clear correlation between the highest concentrations of C02 and the warmest climate.

- In 2009, the summer (minimum) ice cover of the Arctic was 24 per cent below the 1979-2000 average. It was even less in 2007 and 2008. Scientists expect the melting to continue in the coming decades.

- The 14 hottest years on record have all happened in the last 15 years.

- All over the world, glaciers are melting at a very fast rate. On average, glaciers have thinned by over 10 meters of ice since 1980.

- Climate change is increasing the risk of extreme weather events, such as more intense hurricanes,

cyclones and typhoons, heavier rain and snowfall, more frequent and intense heat waves, and

longer droughts, leading to more disasters.

- In addition, there will be increasing health risks: diseases and epidemics may spread to new areas

- Changing rainfall patterns and the melting of glaciers will jeopardize water supplies to hundreds of millions of people.

Climate-related and natural disasters 2008

- 486: disasters in 2008, of which 269 were climate related (source IFRC - DMIS)

- 243,000,000: people affected every year by climate-related disasters

- 181,000,000,000: damages (in US $)

- 18,000,000: amount of money required from IFRC's short-notice emergency fund (DREF, in Swiss francs) to deal with climate-related disasters

- 148,260: the number of people killed in disasters in 2008 (not including 87,476 fatalities in non-climate-related Sichuan earthquake)

- 5,000: the number of Bangladesh Red Crescent volunteers who sounded the alarm before Cyclone Sidr struck in 2007

- 80: the percentage of the Cambodian population living within flood distance of Mekong river