The Human Toll of Climate Change — The Map

Human emissions are changing the climate now — and yet planetary warming has been only about 0.8°C in the past century. So we can barely imagine the harsh changes that will come this century, which is poised to see 5°C warming or more if we don’t act soon.

The impact on local climates, agricultural yields, and in general, our societies has recently been mapped at Science Progress, a project of the Center for American Progress.

Science Progress did a soft launch of the map, The Human Toll of Climate Change, in October. Since then, it has built a growing inventory of the scientific data that is putting climate change consequences literally on the map.

The map is interactive, meaning scientists around the world can add their data and findings (entries are moderated, so the research must be credible).

So far, the map of the U.S. shows:

  • The Midwest and Great Plains can expect severe spring flooding and summer droughts, decreasing crop yields in the American breadbasket.
  • Stronger storms and hurricanes in the Southeast will test the resilience of homes and infrastructure.
  • Disease-carrying mosquitoes and ticks will thrive in the warmer temperatures of the Northeast.
  • Drier conditions in the West will significantly increase the risk of wildfires.
  • Alaska is threatened by landslides and sinking land levels as arctic permafrost melts.

The map is a collective resource for scientists, reporters, and general audiences and has the potential to be a one-stop shop for the most up-to-date information.

On the other hand, it’s a pretty grim collection of how anthropogenic climate change is turning around to change more than just air molecules.

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3 Responses to The Human Toll of Climate Change — The Map

  1. Karen N. says:

    Good work, y’all!

    Another great tool for helping visualize climate change is the video based on Mark Lynas’ book “Six Degrees,” which was produced by National Geographic this past year. You can order it from the NG web page:

    Alternating between interviews with climate scientists and visuals (some real footage, some animated), it walks you through the world as it warms, degree by degree. Does a good job of echoing Lynas’ case that 2 or 3 degrees C is pretty much the threshold to the rest (“gates of hell,” anyone?); it’s unlikely after that that we stop at 4 or 5 degrees. And six degrees, while by no means a ceiling on warming, is an utter nightmare. CP readers know this, but most people in the U.S. don’t. Maybe a good holiday present for someone you know who is open to seeing more about climate change.

  2. mauri pelto says:

    Great map idea. For most people the problem is best visualized locally, even if the locality is not your home and the map based system helps do this. I submitted a few points, which are moderated, and it was quite easy.

  3. A wonderful display of AGW effects! This kind of visualization really helps us understand the extent. Ever changing data, I will need to check back.

    I would want to see some categories added like

    bio extinctions – last site of the last of a gone species
    bio expansions – the multi-winter lack of a hard freeze enables the survival and thriving of the bark beetle that is wiping out forests in British Columbia.

    Although biological specifics can be difficult to argue, there are clear global warming causes – maybe another map for more subtle changes