You might have noticed recently that your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds have been inundated with people doing the #10YearChallenge. The notion is that you post a picture of yourself taken 10 years ago alongside a current photo to show just how much you’ve changed or “glowed up”, with various celebrities utilizing it to prove they don’t age.
But many people are using the challenge to highlight something far more important than the sorcery of good lighting and expensive anti-wrinkle cream. They’re showing how our planet has changed over the past decade, and the images are truly shocking.
These images highlight one of our most visible impacts on the planet: deforestation. In 2017, we lost 40 football fields’ worth of trees every single minute. That’s more than 15.8 million hectares( 39 million acres ). Between 2009 and 2019, the Amazon rainforest lost about 60, 000 square kilometers( 23,160 square miles) of forest cover. Wood are key for storing carbon, helping to mitigate the impacts of carbon emissions. If we maintain losing them, we will also lose a plethora of incredible wildlife- like the critically endangered orangutan pictured above.
Here you can see the toll that 10 years of global warming have had on the Arctic. According to NASA, Arctic sea ice is disappearing at a rate of 12.8 percent per decade, in turn causing sea levels to rise.
Greenpeace further highlighted the impact we’ve had on the Arctic with these two images, taken 100 years apart.
These maps from NASA show how much Earth has warmed over a decade( from 2007 to 2017 ). Since the onset of the Industrial Revolution, the planet has warmed by about 1degC( 1.8 degF ). We urgently need to keep this warming to below 1.5 degC( 2.7 degF) by the end of the century if we want to avoid climate catastrophe.
This image shows the polluting impacts that gold mining has on rivers in Ghana. “Galamsey” is a local Ghanaian term referring to illegal small-scale gold mining. An estimated 75 percent of Ghana’s rivers and waterways ought to have polluted by the practice.
This distressing picture underscores the devastating impact that climate change is having on one of the world’s most iconic species, the polar bear. The majestic beings rely on sea ice for hunting seals, but as this ice melts, the bears either can’t find enough to eat or have to travel further to find food. Most populations are currently thought to be pretty stable, but they’re projected to decline by 30 percent by 2050.
But polar bears aren’t the only species we might lose to climate change.
Both black rhinos and southern white rhinos are listed as critically endangered. The northern white rhino is thought to be extinct in the wild, though a handful of captive animals remain. Rhinos are threatened by habitat loss and poaching for their valuable horns, which are used in Chinese medicine.
Sadly, many species never actually built it to 2019. The stunning blue Spix’s macaw is just one example.
Here at IFLScience, we joined in and created a few of our own #10YearChallenge images.
Global warming is having a dramatic impact on the world’s frozen glaciers. Between 2003 and 2010, Alaska’s glaciers lost a total of 46 billion tons of ice.
The world recently woke up to the problem of plastic pollution. We hurl 80 million tons of plastic into our seas each decade. So much, in fact, that by 2050, the amount of plastic in our oceans will outweigh fish.
Warming oceans are having a grim impact on the world’s coral reefs due to a phenomenon known as bleaching. Half of all coral on Australia’s northern Great Barrier Reef have died since 2016, and it likely won’t recover.
But all hope isn’t lost. With the actions of governments, the public, and those working tirelessly to conserve and protect the planet, at least some of the 10 Year Challenge situations can be turned back around.