We consume apocalyptic headlines about the future of our planet, says climate ‘solutionist’ Hannah Ritchie. But what do the data really show us?Not the end of the world: nine data-driven reasons to look beyond doomsday headlines1. Climatic targets We’re toast if we miss 1.5C, right? Not quite, according to Ritchie. The risk of climate impacts does increase above 1.5C, so every 0.1C counts. “We need to keep going even if we don’t [meet them],” she writes.2. Human progress We used to have almost half of all children die before 5. Now it’s 4 per cent. “Still woefully high, but more than tenfold lower,” writes Ritchie. Life expectancy has doubled, and global extreme poverty has gone from three-quarters of the population to 10%.3. Air pollution Modern air pollution is alarming, but not unprecedented. 18th century London would be worse than Delhi today. India is close to peak air pollution, and China has reversed the trend.4. Emissions Per capita emissions peaked at 4.9 tonnes per person in 2012. “This is a signal that the peak in our total CO2 emissions is coming,” writes Ritchie. Her carbon footprint is half that of her grandparents at her age.5. Food production We could divide global food production equally and have 5,000 calories a day each. “Hunger and famine still exist, but they’re political and social in nature,” writes Ritchie.6. Biodiversity Agriculture and hunting caused three-quarters of plant and animal extinctions. Halting biodiversity decline means ending deforestation, eating less meat and improving farming efficiency.7. Plastic waste A tiny fraction of global plastic waste ends up in the ocean, equivalent to around a million tonnes. Understanding the problem’s scale can empower solutions.8. Fish stocks Overfishing rates have slowed, and around 83% of caught fish now comes from sustainable sources. Negative news sells, positive news can sell, neutral news rarely does, writes Ritchie.9. The Amazon rainforest While the Amazon doesn’t produce 20% of the world’s oxygen – it emits as much as it consumes – deforestation is a real threat. Readers can support Positive News by giving once from £1 or making a monthly contribution to receive positive news related articles.
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