Effects of Global Warming
Global warming is not something whose effects will be felt centuries later, it is already affecting our lives. The recent scorching weather is not purely an act of nature. Neither is the increasingly volatile weather that is wreaking havoc in certain parts of the globe. Humans are causing global warming and we are suffering as a result, and the consequences will only get heavier.
The increased temperatures are not only melting icebergs and glaciers, it is also causing animals to migrate to different areas or die, upsetting ecosystems, and it is also changing precipitation patterns.
The effects of global warming are strongest at the poles. Ice all over the world is melting. This includes the ice on mountain glaciers, Arctic sea ice and ice sheets covering West Antarctica and Greenland. The melting ice increases the sea level and this causes flooding of low-lying areas. When snow and ice melt, their ability to reflect sunlight is lost, escalating global warming even further.
Cities such as Venice are starting to sink. Small islands such as Guyana are also starting to becoming submerged. The sea level is estimated to have increased at a rate of 0.1 to 0.2 inches per year according to the 2001 IPCC report.Although climate change is complex to predict, sea level is expected to rise between 28cm and 79cm (11 and 31 inches) by 2100. Floods will become more common in the future.
Precipitation in the form of rain and snow has on average, increased across the whole world.
Irregular weather patterns have an effect on humans. Rain is not only an inconvenience for humans, but storms damage human property. The increase in heat will increase evaporation which is why there will be more rain. Animals and plants cannot easily adapt to increased rainfall or snowfall and many animals migrate to other areas. Plants can die as a result and this can cause an ecosystem to collapse as plants are the main source of food in an ecosystem.
Hurricanes and other storms are likely to become stronger. The Bush
Administration stated that there is no evidence to prove this claim.
However, looking at how hurricanes form give this claim credibility.
Hurricanes have devastating effects on humans and their properties. Hurricane Katrina was a famous hurricane that decimated the city of New Orleans, destroying structures, killing people, and displacing.
The world has had a food crisis and global warming may have been to blame for it. At the moment global warming does not have much of an impact on this, but in the future, there will be impacts.
As temperatures around the world will increase, plants will find it harder to cope and they will die. Some of these plants are used by humans for food and so a food shortage may occur. Plants create food for themselves through a process called photosynthesis. The enzymes that are needed for photosynthesis die when exposed to high temperatures. Pests may also migrate to new areas and destroy the crops there. Pests may migrate from tropical countries to temperate countries.
Droughts are occurring in more and more places in the world due to higher temperatures.
Droughts mean there is no water for plants to grow. Agriculture would be severely affected. When there are no plants, humans have nothing to eat. There are also no plants to feed animals and so humans cannot eat animals either. The high temperatures can also cause heat-strokes and other illnesses to humans.
Droughts will become more common. Rainfall in Ethiopia could decline by 10% over the next 50 years. Ethiopia is already often ravaged by droughts.
Animals have been migrating to adapt to new conditions. Some butterflies, foxes and alpine plants have moved north to cooler areas.
This migration destroys ecosystems and their biodiversity. As parts of the food chain are lost from an ecosystem, the whole ecosystem can easily collapse. Ecosystems and their biodiversity are important to humans. Humans get food, employment, raw materials and pharmaceutical products from the environment.
It is possible that symbiotic species (species that depend on each other) will become incompatible. For example, plants could bloom earlier than their pollinating insects become active. Ecosystems will definitely change. Some species will migrate to more suitable conditions while some will stay and try to adapt. Not all will succeed and many species will become extinct. It is predicted that 20% of all mammals will become extinct within the next century.
Rising temperatures have an effect on the health of humans and the diseases that they are exposed to.
Human health will be affected. The world glimpsed this in 2003 when Europe was struck by heat waves and people died. Heat strokes are likely to increase as temperatures get hotter.
Diseases such as malaria are likely to spread. Parasites that originate in tropical regions may migrate to temperate regions as they become warmer. Mosquitoes are an example and it is predicted that malaria will spread around the world. It is also predicted that asthma will increase around the world as allergens that cause asthma will become more common.
1. National Geographic Society (2008) Global Warming Effects Information, Global Warming Effects Facts, Climate Change Effects [Online] (Updated 2007)
Coastal islands and cities such
20% of all mammals are expected
Deadly heat waves will become more common and many regions
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