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Test your Green IQ: 10 Earth Day facts that might surprise you

With hotter temperatures, rising sea levels and more severe storms, the planet we live in is constantly changing.

This Earth Day, test your environmental knowledge with these true or false questions to see just how much you know about the changing climate.

1. True or False: The fashion industry in 2018 produced 4% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

TRUE: The fashion sector in 2018 was responsible for approximately 2.1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which is about 4% of the global total, according to a 2020 report authored by the sustainability nonprofit Global Fashion Agenda and management consulting firm McKinsey and Company.

The study found that 70% of the fashion industry’s emissions came from what’s known as upstream activities like materials production and processing. Researchers forecast greenhouse gas emissions from the fashion industry to rise to nearly 2.7 billion tons each year by 2030 if no further action is taken over the next decade.

“People typically only get a few uses out of these items and then throw them away, contributing to more waste and emissions,” Yaheya Heikal, CEO of the environmental management company Futurae Vision, told CBS News. “Our clothes should last for years, not a few uses.”

2. True or False: Natural disasters in 2021 cost the United States more than $200 billion.

FALSE: In 2021, natural disasters cost the United States approximately $148 billion, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. The agency counted 20 weather and climate disasters including flooding, wildfires and tropical cyclones in 2021, which resulted in the deaths of 724 people. Since 1980, the country has experienced 323 weather and climate disasters, costing in excess of $2.195 trillion.

And according to the United States Geological Survey, increasing temperatures across the globe pave the way for more droughts and more intense storms.

“As more water vapor is evaporated into the atmosphere it becomes fuel for more powerful storms to develop,” the USGS said.

3. True or False: The food service industry contributed to 50% of global food waste in 2019.

FALSE: The food service industry produced 26% of the 931 million tons of food waste generated in 2019, according to a report published in 2021 by the United Nations Environment Programme. Researchers found that an estimated eight to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food that isn’t consumed.

The Environment Programme’s executive director Inger Andersen said food waste “burdens waste management systems, exacerbates food insecurity, making it a major contributor to the three planetary crises of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste.”

The study calls for countries to make more of an effort in measuring food and inedible parts thrown away at both the retail and consumer level. Researchers also called for countries to track food waste and to address the role that consumers play in it.

“There is growing evidence of success in reducing food waste,” Anderson said. “If food loss and waster were a country, it would be the third biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions.”

4. True or False: Approximately 80% of the world’s wastewater flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused.

TRUE: According to the United Nations, 80% of the world’s wastewater flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused and approximately 44% of household wastewater isn’t safely treated across the globe. Because of this, around 1.8 billion people worldwide utilize a drinking water source that’s potentially contaminated with feces. Those consuming untreated water are at risk of contracting diseases such as cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio.

The United Nations reports that low and lower-middle income countries are at the greatest risk of exposure to pollutants in water because of higher population, the lack of wastewater management systems and economic growth.

“As populations grow and natural environments become degraded, ensuring there are sufficient and safe water supplies for everyone is becoming increasingly challenging,” the UN said. “A major part of the solution is to produce less pollution and improve the way we manage wastewater.”

5. True or False: Each of the last four decades has been increasingly warmer than any decade that preceded it.

TRUE: According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the last four decades have each been successively warmer than any decade that came before it since 1850. Scientists concluded that greenhouse gases from human activities are behind the approximate 1.1 degree Celsius of warming between the years 1850 to 1900.

The United Nations chief António Guterres warned this month that the planet is on the path to global warming of more than double the 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit limit agreed upon in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. He said the world is “already perilously close to tipping points that could lead to cascading and irreversible climate effects.”

“This is not fiction or exaggeration,” Guterres said. “It is what science tells us will result from our current energy policies.”

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