20 Years After Rio and Earth Keeps Getting Hotter

  • Susan Phillips

John Moore / Getty Images

Lucy the dog waits for ice cream in New York City as her owners try to cope with the second day of a heat wave.


As an early heat wave saps the East Coast, world leaders are in Rio de Janeiro talking about climate change, pollution, and how to keep Earth livable for humans, and other creatures. The first meeting of this sort took place 20 years ago. And things aren’t looking up since then. The Associated Press gathered the numbers. 

TEMPERATURES: The average annual global temperature has increased 0.58 degrees Fahrenheit (0.32 degrees Celsius) since 1992 based on 10-year running averages, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Every year since 1992 has been warmer than the year of the original Rio conference.
POLLUTION: Global levels of the chief heat-trapping gas, carbon dioxide, climbed 10 percent from nearly 358 parts per million in April 1992 to 394 ppm this past April, NOAA said.
DISASTERS: Since 1992, natural disasters have affected 4.4 billion people worldwide, killed 1.3 million people, and cost $2 trillion in damages, according to the United Nations. Earthquakes, storms, extreme temperatures and floods were the biggest killers.
FORESTS: Since 1990, the world’s primary forest areas have decreased about 740 million acres (300 million hectares), according to the United Nations. That’s an area larger than Argentina.

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