For some years, global warming, the gradual heating of Earth’s surface, oceans and atmosphere, was a topic of debates in the scientific community. Today, the overwhelming consensus of researchers is that global warming is real and is product of human activity. Primarily the burning of fossil fuels that pump carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
This affirmation was supported, as of 2013, by 197 scientific organizations around the globe, which is a stark difference from the levels of awareness in common citizens.
Perhaps it is because when thinking about global warming, humans do not see themselves experimenting it now. But, rather, they look at projections for what the world could become if global warming prevails. The truth is, climatic change is not a storm in the making ⎯the downpour has already reached everywhere around the world.
Researches about Global Warming
According to a Yale University study based on data collected by Gallup in the 2007-2008 period, “about 40 percent of adults worldwide have never heard of climate change. This rises to more than 65 percent in some developing countries, like Egypt, Bangladesh and India”. While this is understandable in developing countries, it results puzzling in those belonging to the developed world, like the United States.
Another study by Yale found that, in 2015, “fewer than 2 in 5 churchgoing Catholics heard about it from their priest in the month after it was released”. It appears that, nine years after Gallup’s poll and even when the world is already resenting from the effects of global warming, ignorance about it is still commonplace.
Also, The National Climate Assessment, said that the human influences are the number one cause of global warming, especially the carbon pollution we cause by burning fossil fuels and the pollution-capturing we prevent by destroying forests. The carbon dioxide, methane, soot, and other pollutants we release into the atmosphere act like a blanket, trapping the sun’s heat and causing the planet to warm.
Evidence shows that 2000 to 2009 was hotter than any other decade in at least the past 1,300 years. This warming is altering the earth’s climate system, including its land, atmosphere, oceans, and ice, in far-reaching ways.
Effects of Global Warming in the World
Global Warming is already affecting the human kind. Also is affecting plants and animals in numbers of ways through increased ocean levels, droughts and changed weather patterns. It is well recognized by scientists around the world as a serious public health and environmental concern.
The Union of Concerned Scientists separates the effects of global warming in five categories: people, freshwater, oceans, ecosystems and temperature.
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Currently and in the future, people is affect on four main fronts: health, food, water use and costs.
Climate change can affect human health in two main ways: first, by changing the severity or frequency of health problems; and second, by creating unprecedented or unanticipated health problems or health threats in places where they have not previously occurred.
As the temperature becomes warmer, it can affect the health of humans and the diseases they are exposed to. So, with the increase in the rainfall, water borne diseases, like malaria, are likely to spread. The earth will become warmer and as a result heat waves can kill thousands of people, as they do in places that are not so warm throughout the year.
A reduction in yield and an increase in pests compromise food availability. This is aided by a loss of arable land and the need to implement irrigation systems when faced with a change in precipitation patterns. The long-term effects of global warming on this field can potentially cause famine.
Water scarcity is found in an increased magnitude around the world, affecting rich and specially poor countries. Nearly three billion people live in water scarce conditions (over 40 percent of the world’s population), and this situation could worsen if current population growth trends continue.
The consequences of pervasive water poverty include millions of deaths every year due to malnourishment and water-related diseases, political conflict over scarce water resources, extinction of freshwater species, and degradation of aquatic ecosystems.
Roughly half of all wetlands have already been lost. Also, dams have seriously altered the flow of roughly 60 percent of the world’s major river basins.
Many experts believe that global warming increases the size and frequency of hurricanes and other extreme weather events. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina created $125 billion in damage, with $66 billion in insured losses. It caused GDP to decline from 3.8 percent in Q3 to 1.3 percent in Q4 2005. In 2008, Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Ike hit the United States. Though they did not cause as much damage, they support the trend of more frequent and more severe hurricanes caused by global warming. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy flooded New York City at its 500-year flood mark. It cost $50 billion in damage.
According to a paper published in Nature takes on the ambitious task of connecting micro- and macro-level estimates of climate costs. The study finds that climate change can reshape the global economy by reducing average global incomes roughly 23% by the year 2100. This study presents the first evidence that economic activity in all regions is coupled in some way to global climate. The study also sets up a new empirical paradigm for modeling economic loss in response to climate change.
The world’s most in-depth analysis of the economic costs and opportunities of climate change is The Stern Review, a 700-page report released by former World Bank chief economist Lord Stern.
The report concludes that early action to reduce the impacts of GHG emissions could cost only two per cent of GDP, but it warns that the costs of delaying action will result in significantly higher economic costs — up to 20% of GDP.
The world does not need to choose between averting climate change and promoting growth and development. In fact, the solutions to climate change will also bring about many economic benefits.
Fresh water is crucial to human society – not just for drinking, but also for farming, washing and many other activities. It is expected to become increasingly scarce in the future. So, this is partly due to climate change.
Understanding the problem of freshwater scarcity begins by considering the distribution of water on the planet. Approximately 98% of our water is salty and only 2% is fresh. Of that 2%, almost 70% is snow and ice, 30% is groundwater, less than 0.5% is surface water (lakes, rivers, etc) and less than 0.05% is in the atmosphere.
Climate change has several effects on these proportions on a global scale. The main one is that warming causes polar ice to melt into the sea, which turns fresh water into sea water, although this has little direct effect on water supply.
Excessive heat leads to a decline in mountain snowpack and a rise in sea level, which compromises water availability and risks saltwater intrusion in freshwater reservoirs. The production of hydroelectric energy has also been compromised, as lakes and dams face the effects of severe droughts.
Average global sea level has increased eight inches since 1880, but is rising much faster on the U.S. East Coast and Gulf of Mexico. Global warming is now accelerating the rate of sea level rise, increasing flooding risks to low-lying communities and high-risk coastal properties whose development has been encouraged by today’s flood insurance system.
The earth’s marine ecosystems are under pressure as a result of the effects of global warming. Oceans are becoming more acidic, due in large part to their absorption of some of our excess emissions. As this acidification accelerates, it poses a serious threat to underwater life, particularly creatures with calcium carbonate shells or skeletons, including mollusks, crabs, and corals. This can have a huge impact on shellfisheries.
For decades, the ocean has been absorbing carbon dioxide dumped into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. It has also absorbed a lot of the extra heat produced by elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. But even the oceans have their limits. But, society is bumping up against them with damaging consequences for the whole world.
Living things are connect to their physical surroundings intimately. Even small changes in the temperature of the air, soil or water, can have significant effects. Each specie is affect by changes individually. But those individual impacts can quickly reverberate through the intricate web of life that makes up an ecosystem.
As Earth warms, many species are shifting their ranges to areas with more tolerable climate conditions, in terms of temperature, precipitation, and other factors. About 40 percent of wild plants and animals that have been studied over decades are relocating to stay within their tolerable climate ranges.
The effects of global warming also drive changes in the timing of seasonal biological activities. Many biological events, especially those in the spring and fall, are based on seasonal cues. Studies have found that the seasonal behaviors of many species now happen 15–20 days earlier than several decades ago. Migrant birds are arriving earlier, butterflies are emerging sooner, and plants are budding and blooming earlier.
The greenhouse effect increases the temperature of the Earth by trapping heat in our atmosphere. This keeps the temperature of the Earth higher. So, it would be if direct heating by the Sun was the only source of warming. When sunlight reaches the surface of the Earth, some of it is absorb. So, this warms the ground and some bounces back to space as heat. Greenhouse gases that are in the atmosphere absorb and then redirect some of this heat back towards the Earth.
According to Nasa, in 2016 the Earth’s surface temperature shattered the previous record for hottest year by 0.12°C. That record beat out the previous in 2010, which in turn had broken the previous record set in 2005.
Although the time for preemptive maintenance has pass, the human race face with the possibility of ameliorating the effects of global warming. The only thing that they have to do, is reducing its emissions of greenhouse gases.
It still seems to be possible to avoid the most devastating effects on the environment. However we must start acting immediately. The longer we keep on talking instead of acting, the more drastic measures we will need.
How to do something for the planet?
One way to start doing something for the planet is to become an environmental activist. You can become an activist in Richmond Vale Academy. The Climate Change Activist Program, has the purpose that you learn and teach along with people from all over the world to create awareness, spread the knowledge about Climate Change and Global Warming in the communities, and specifically in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The effects of global warming, affects us all so everyone must bring down his or her personal contribution.
Please spread the word about the effects of global warming, do you part and save the planet. Also, if you have any questions or ideas, please leave a comment!