According to the scientific community, the climate of the earth is changing rapidly. Over the last century, the earth has become hotter by 1 degree F, and it is projected that it will continue to do so, even more quickly, in the next few decades. The reason being, the atmosphere being polluted by greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, most of it from industrial activity, the burning of fossil fuels, and deforestation. In fact, according to climate researchers, most of this global warming that has occurred over the past 50 years is due to the consequences of human activity.
Consequences on Human Life and the Environment
It goes without saying that the phenomenon of global warming is highly complex, and therefore difficult to predict what exactly the full-scale consequences on human life and the environment will be. However, with each passing year scientists are learning more and more about how climatic changes is impacting the Earth, and many of them now agree that if there is a continuation of the current trends, then some of the effects of global warming will be:
Changes in Climatic Conditions
There will be an increase in the average temperatures all over the world, leading to more frequent heat waves. This will lead to drought-like conditions, increasing the chances of forest fires that are larger in scale, more intense, and harder to put out. Rising temperatures can also affect the climatic system of a region by increasing the energy of storm conditions, resulting in more severe rainfalls. Likewise, when the waters in the oceans heat up, it increases the energy of tropical storms, resulting in hurricanes that are more powerful and destructive.
Reduction of Agricultural Productivity
It is said that if the global warming continues at its current rate, the resulting increase in the temperature will lead to a drastic reduction in agricultural productivity, especially in northern continental regions. It is projected that the soil in these areas will be drier in the summer, partly because of the snow melting earlier in the spring, and more cloudless and hotter summers, which will in turn result in the moisture in the soil evaporating extensively, causing severe droughts. This will be further exacerbated by water levels in rivers and lakes falling because of less rainfall.
Inundation of Coastal Areas and Low-Lying Regions due to Rising Sea Levels
There is evidence that the sea levels are already rising, and this phenomenon is likely to increase because of glaciers melting in the mountains and the ice caps in the Arctic and Antarctic regions melting. This will have an impact on coastal areas that are low-lying like the estuaries of Chesapeake Bay and along the Gulf of Mexico. According to a report that the United Nations published, if global warming continues, the coastal areas of the Netherlands and Bangladesh will be flooded by 2100. Plus, it is also said that Maldives will disappear completely, which can happen by the sea level rising just by two feet.
The Disruption of Ecosystems
It is expected the global warming will cause extensive disruptions in ecosystems, with the consequential loss of a number of species, particularly those that are unable to adapt to the changes. According to some assessments, it is predicted that by the year 2050 about a million species will be extinct, if the current rates continues. Some of the ecosystems that are most vulnerable are alpine meadows found in the Rocky Mountains, the delicate ecosystem of the Himalayan ranges, mangrove forests in coastal areas, coral reefs, and so on.
Effects on Health
Global warming will lead to heat waves occurring more intensively and more frequently, resulting heat-related health effects and deaths. These effects may also exacerbate problems caused by poor air quality in various regions, which are already affecting people around the world. It is also projected that the virulence and wider range of tropical diseases will also increase due to global warming.
Dealing with Global Warming
Dealing with and mitigating the adverse effects of global warming is not going to be an easy task. Ultimately, we will have to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide dramatically if we want to protect the planet, the economy, as well as our health.
In order to accomplish this, we will have to find the will to make fundamental changes to the way our global economy is powered, switching from using fossil fuels to renewable and more efficient sources of energy.