What could happen in the future, if global warming continues at the current alleged rate? According to studies conducted by the U.N, the rising temperatures of the earth could result in devastating consequences, affecting each and every one of us. This could be just the beginning. Although it is impossibe to know exactly what would happen, many predict that developing countries will suffer most due to climate change.
Here is a run-down of the possible outcomes of extended global warming:
- De-glaciation of Antarctica
One of the biggest consequences of global warming is the meltdown of the Antarctica icecaps. Since the 1950s, the Antarctic Peninsula has warmed by 2.5C and the biggest reason is thought to be global warming. (The other cause is the Southern Ocean Vortex) Although 2.5C seems only a small change in temperature, it can have devastating effects. During the twentieth century there has been an average rise of 18 centimetres of sea level.
With a slight increase,the ice sheets of Antarctica will no longer be a suitable habitat for the unique animals living in the pristine isolated continent. The melting of the ice and resulting rise in sea levels will eventually wipe out many tropical islands. Some scientists believe it will be the melting glaciers on land that bring the more serious consequences. In addition, the melting of the North Pole is expected to release the carbon dioxide gas that has been trapped inside the ice, further contributing to the Greenhouse effect.
The deforestation around the world is not only reducing the number of trees that are soaking up carbon dioxide, but it is also causing drought. The droughts occur because bare ground absorbs much more heat than forests do, and it cannot retain as much water. The rising atmospheric temperature has caused further loss of moisture in the soil. The National Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has found that droughts have increased by 30% since the 1970s. This seriously affects the farming regions for the survival of crops and cattle.
With global warming, hurricanes are not happening more frequently, but they are becoming more fierce because of the rising temperatures and increasing humidity. In the past few years we have seen various catastrophic hurricane events. For example, Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans in 2005, devastated people in and out of New Orleans economically and emotionally.
At the same time, the increase in sea surface temperature in the Pacific has lead to more El Nino Southern Oscillations. This causes changes to ocean currents and gale-force winds.
- Destruction of plant and animal habitat
Both animals and plants are feeling the heat too. As the temperature increases, the tolerance range for many animals is exceeded and the animals migrate or their reproduction diminishes. Inundation resulting from rising sea levels will cause some flora and fauna to lose their habitats.
- Human health at risk
Many predict that global warming will increase sickness and death among humans. The change in temperature will affect the air, and water quality and the spread of disease carrying insects.
- The rising atmospheric temperature will increase ground level atmosphere ozone. Ozone at the lower atmospheric level acts as a pollutant. This will increase the respiratory sickness, such as asthma and allergies.
- The water quality will decrease globally with the increase of heavy rainfalls. The drinkable water will mix with dirty water. All the water will need purification and unfortunately, it will be the poor countries that will suffer the most with water-borne diseases.
- Various insects will be able to conquer wider ranges of territory and so diseases, such as malaria, will spread across vast areas and will contribute to the already high death toll due to the spreading of diseases by insects.