Harsh facts on World Environment Day: Climate change, pollution and disasters

New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaEdited By: Palki SharmaUpdated: Jun 06, 2020, 12:27 AM IST

Record-breaking temperatures and months of severe drought fuelled a series of massive bushfires across Australia that started in November, which caused severe damage to the wildlife, human civilization and environment. Till March 2020, the fires burnt an estimated 18.6 million hectares (46 million acres; 186,000 square kilometres; 72,000 square miles), destroyed over 5,900 buildings (including 2,779 homes) and killed at least 34 people and nearly 480 million wildlife. Photograph:(AFP)

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Let's try to understand these five facts on June 5, the day dedicated to environmental awareness and protection.  

As we mark World Environment Day, there are some harsh facts that tell us that our environment is at unimaginable risk. So let's try to understand these five facts on June 5, the day dedicated to environmental awareness and protection.  

Climate Change

The biggest challenge that our environment faces is climate change. Polar ice caps are melting six times faster than they were in the 1990s. Greenland and Antarctica have lost more than 6.4 trillion ice between 1992 and 2017. Sea levels, on average, have risen eight inches since the 1880s. 


One of the biggest contributors to climate change is pollution. About 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions, according to a Carbon Majors report. 

Plastic pollution

If we look at pollution, a major worry is pollution generated from plastic. Half of all the plastics ever manufactured are produced in the last 15 years. Every year, nearly eight million tons of plastic waste finds its way into the oceans. 


All of the human beings and other species are victims of pollution and climate change. As many as 100,000 species are getting extinct each year. Experts say the rapid loss of species is 1000-10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate. 


Disasters are one of the biggest signs that suggest that not all is well with the environment. In the last 30 years, the number of climate-related disasters has tripled. Over 20 million people are forced to leave their homes each year because of disasters. 

The economic cost of climate change and natural disasters is also very high. According to estimates, by 2030, developing countries would have to shell 140 to 300 billion dollars every year. 

Also, events from the first five months of this year substantiate the point that the risk to our environment is real. 

We welcomed 2020 with an ongoing unfortunate event, Australian bushfires, one of the most devastating of all time. About 25.5 million hectares of land were gutted by the fires. The area is about the size of South Korea and 33 people have lost their lives in these fires. 

In April this year, the United States witnessed its second-highest tornado count ever, with as many as 351 tornadoes in that particular month. As many as 40 people died in these tornadoes. 

Now, we are struggling with locust attacks that have targetted 25 countries this year. Millions of hectares of farmland have been destroyed in Africa and Asia. It is likely that we have to face locust attacks every year. These swarms symbolise climate change. 

Recently, parts of India and Bangladesh also witnessed massive destruction caused by super cyclone Amphan. It was the first super cyclone formed in the Bay of Bengal since 1999. At least 100 people have died in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal alone. The strong winds made Bengal look like a war zone. 

And just over 24 hours ago, a powerful landslide swept several buildings into the sea in northern Norway.