Top 10 Reasons Why CLIMATE CHANGE Is NO LONGER A Debate
Global warming has been in the news for years with experts debating back and forth on what possibly could occur if nothing is done to curb its adverse effects. Global warming isn't the consequence of one singular scenario, but the combination of several detrimental events that all intertwine with one another. We'll start with the melting polar regions and trickle down to the extermination of entire species here in our top ten global warming outcomes.
It is predicted by experts that one-fourth of the Earth's species could be heading towards extinction by 2050 due to climate change. It is already happening in the oceans with increased carbon dioxide retention causing acidification or "bleaching" in the marine ecosystem, which has lead to the coral reefs disappearing. Although coral reefs only make up 1% of the Earth's surface, they house a staggering 25% of all marine life. A study conducted by Worldwide Fund for Nature, states that coral reefs have declined by 50% in the last 30 years. In 1991, the death of the last Golden Toad in Central America is marked as the first documented species extinction caused by climate change. It is also estimated that due to the melting ice of the Arctic, that polar bears may be gone in the next 100 years.
Loss of Biodiversity
The link between climate change and biodiversity has long been established, but as global temperatures rapidly rise, it becomes more of a threat to the biodiversity of our planet affecting their ability to adapt quickly. As some ecosystems are melting away, literally, animals are pushed to territory they aren't familiar with, causing species that have adapted to the original environment to become strained. There is less food due to animals dying from the increase of disease and from species migrating to more hospitable locations, as seen in recent years in the Arctic and other regions. Less water from droughts in other areas where it was originally abundant becomes another factor. If flora and fauna can not adapt to the changes that are occurring, not only will some of these habitats become scarce, but some may even become non-existent.
Temperature rise due to climate change may radically damage the global economy and slow growth in the following years by several different factors. Researchers found that temperature change due to global warming will leave global GDP per capita 23% lower in 2100 than it would be if there wasn't any warming. Some factors include, damage to property and infrastructure caused by floods, rising sea levels, droughts, wildfires, and storms that will require repair, or loss in productivity due to declines in ecosystems, increased sickness, bad weather for tourism, and/or agriculture disruption. It would also strain humanitarian relief and increase security threats when mass climate refugees are displaced from their homes.
War and Conflict
Severe drought, compounded by warming climate, drove Syrian Farmers to abandon their crops and flock to cities, which helped in triggering a civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands. This was stated in a study and published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, along with the acknowledgement that many other factors played a role in this conflict. Researchers argue that the conflict derived from economic uncertainties resulting from temperature-related yield declines in areas heavily dependent on agriculture. As climate change causes more resource depletion, it is highly likely to cause conflict within those regions or be exploited by those who see it as an advantage for power, territory, or wealth. You may think that this is an isolated part of the world, but these symptoms could trickle down, and effect countries that were otherwise thought to be safe.
Climate change will make it easier for more infectious diseases, or disease causing bacteria, viruses and fungi to spread, with evidence that it could help them expand in range. With increased temperatures and rainfall patterns changing, summers have become longer, allowing disease carrying insects, like mosquitoes, to remain active longer and in areas they weren't normally native to. Epidemics of Rift Valley fever, malaria, and yellow fever may become more widespread with warmer climates; ecosystems like coral reefs are becoming bleached and dying from pathogens that thrive in warm waters, germs that once staved off by colder waters are infecting oysters and Monarch butterflies are being attacked by parasites that normally wouldn't be able to survive in their habitat. In 2001, an outbreak of distemper, carried by flies, killed many lions in Tanzania and has been linked to climate change.
Droughts and Heat Waves
Heat waves are generally defined as a period of several days to weeks of abnormally hot weather. In the past 30 to 40 years, there has been an increased trend in high-humidity heat waves due to the higher temperatures observed at night. Heat waves are responsible for more deaths yearly than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined. Experts suggest that average temperatures will rise between 5 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit or 3 to 5 Celsius over the next century.
With temperatures on the rise, scientists expect an increase of 2 degrees Celsius or 3.6 Fahrenheit in ocean temperatures within the next century. As a result, storms, hurricanes, and tropical storms will become more intense, lasting longer, with stronger winds and causing more damage to coastal habitats and communities. Hurricanes and tropical storms are both fueled and intensified depending on how rapidly water can evaporate from the ocean. The evaporation transfers heat from the ocean to the atmosphere, forming strong winds. A study posted in the journal Nature, found that hurricanes and typhoons have grown in magnitude and are longer lasting over the past 30 years. These growths correlate with the rise in sea temperatures.
Widespread thawing and melting of permafrost due to rising temperatures releases carbon, with some of that carbon being released as methane. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that has many times the warming potential of carbon dioxide and other gases. There is also an enormous amount of methane stored in ice called methane hydrate in sediments on the ocean floor that can be released with higher temperatures. Hydrates form with almost any gas and is defined as a compound in which water molecules are chemically bound to another compound or element. Combine both these methods, plus emissions from humans and other sources, it could lead to planetary disaster causing problems with rising sea levels, natural disasters, as well as extinction of 20 to 50% of the world's animal species.
Rising Sea Level
Scientists have determined that the global sea level has been rising since 1900 at approximately 0.04 to 0.1 inches or 1 to 2.5 millimeters per year, with a more recent study claiming a rate of.14 inches or 3.5 millimeters since the early 1990's. Although it doesn't sound like a considerable amount, it can have potentially large impacts by putting thousands of coastal cities and whole islands at risk of being swallowed by the ocean. Two methods contribute to the rise in sea levels: The melting of the polar caps and glaciers and the expansion of seawater due to global temperature rise. Predicting the amount that oceans will rise is difficult at best, with experts estimating a rise of 2.5 to 6.5 feet or 0.8 to 2 meters by 2100, and more dire estimates of 23 feet or 7 meters, enough to submerge London.
Melting Glaciers in Polar Regions
After existing for a millennia, the northern section of the Larsen B ice shelf in Antarctica collapsed between January and March of 2002, disintegrating at an alarming rate that stunned scientists. It is estimated that melting is occurring at 9% per 10 years, which will only get worse with rising temperatures. This isn't just occurring here though, as several colder climates, such as Greenland or Glacier National Park, is also losing their ice regions. The water melting starts out salt free, causing it to remain near the surface, which in turn, is slowing the northern advance of warmer water from the North Atlantic Current, a sort of ecological conveyor system. This leads to colder temperatures, higher sea levels, more storms, ecological destruction, amongst other detrimental effects on our planet.