There's also a lack of understanding of the future effects that might occur if we wait any longer to act.
The real facts about global warming must be known so individuals and governments alike can come together to solve one of the greatest challenges acing humans to date.
- The Earth's Future
- Skyrocketing Temperatures
- Rising Sea Levels
- Stronger Hurricanes
- Disappearing Coral Reefs
- Water Shortages
- Food Shortages
- Environmental Refugees
- Increased War
- How Can We Reduce The Effects
If you've heard about the effects of global warming, you've probably considered the two major problems - increasing temperatures, and rising sea levels.
Your world has gotten warmer - global average temperatures have increased by 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880. While this may not sound like a lot, experts predict that by 2100, the average global temperature will rise a staggering 3.2-7.1 degrees F from today's.
You've witnessed the hottest years recorded in your lifetime. Since record-keeping began in 1880, the 10 hottest years have been between 1997 and 2008.
temperatures rise and ice melts around the world, oceans will rise
about 3 feet by 2100. This would have drastic consequences for the
world as you know it - a 3 foot rise in sea levels would displace
about 600 million people, or about 10% of today's worldwide population.
Highly populated areas like China, Bangladesh, India, and major cities
along the east coast of the U.S. would be greatly affected.
This figure could be much higher if
either of the quickly melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica
completely melt. Each major ice sheet contains about 500,000 cubic
miles of ice, enough to each raise the sea by about 20 feet.
This, of course, would have an even more drastic effect on the world's
geography. In the U.S. alone, most of Florida, Louisiana, New York
City, Washington, D.C., and other coastal areas would be completely
What other effects can you expect as a result of rising temperatures and sea levels? The prognosis is kind of grim....
The number of category 4 and 5 (the strongest) hurricanes that you see each season has doubled since 1970. A record of four category 5 hurricanes formed in 2005, the most ever seen in one season.
Another record was seen in 2007,
when two category 5 hurricanes made landfall in Central America. It's
likely that you'll see this trend continue in years to come.
In 1998 (the second-hottest year on record), the world lost 16% of its coral reefs to bleaching from the hotter ocean temperatures. Studies show that coral reefs are disappearing faster than previously thought - nearly 600 square miles of reefs have disappeared per year in the Indo-Pacific region since the late 1960s.
You may be shocked to learn that some estimates predict that up to 1/3 of all species will be extinct by 2050. Less ice will surely mean the end of polar bears and penguins. The warming climate will mean that animals
will be driven farther north to get to their acclimated comfort zones,
where they will be competing with other species for food.
If you live in the western U.S., mountain snowpacks currently provide up to 75% of your water supply. Major cities like Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Denver depend on this water. And 40% of the world's population relies on the Himalayan glaciers for water. What will happen when all this snow melts?!?
With every 1 degree rise in temperature, yields for crops
like rice, wheat, and corn fall by 10%. Add in the world's estimated
population of 9 billion by 2050, and you've got the recipe for a hunger disaster.
you live in a coastal, low-lying area, you'll be among the millions
who'll need to relocate to avoid rising waters. Whole countries and
civilizations will have to figure out where to go, and will end up
crowding other already-established societies.
and water shortages, along with the mass migrations, will cause wars
over resources. Many areas are already experiencing conflicts over
water today - the conflict in Darfur, Sudan, which has killed as many
as 400,000 Africans since 2003, began partly over access to water.
For those of you in the southeastern U.S., you're far too familiar with the concept of a water war. Recent droughts have caused disputes over water rights between Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.
These outcomes are scary,
but you still have time to prevent the worst from happening and change
the outcome of our world. Raising awareness about how to stop global warming is necessary to have people join in a worldwide, grassroots effort to combat climate change.
You can make a difference
in little ways - by boycotting plastic bags, turning off unused lights
and appliances, not wasting water - and take more extreme steps, like
selling your car and moving to a more energy-efficient city.
It's up to you to make changes that prevent these effects from coming true.