Global warming is a phenomenon that has been used to refer to the cumulative, long-term effects of greenhouse gases, especially methane and carbon dioxide, in increasing the overall temperatures in the atmosphere. Global warming is hotly debated topic that has dominated global discussions for many years. It has to do with climate changes that are likely to affect the earth and everything therein in the long-term. Here are the top ten effects of global warming that have been proven and some hypothesized by scientists using climate modeling.
1. Destruction of our ecosystem
Dramatic changes in the climatic conditions and increased amount of carbon dioxide continue to put the ecosystem to test. Experts say that global warming has been responsible for low quality air, threatens supplies of fresh water. For example, death of coral reefs due to warmer ocean waters and constant migration of vulnerable animals and plants to other geographies due to changes in temperatures and melting ice sheets are some of the indicators of ballooning effects of global warming.
2. Effects on biodiversity
More than ever before, important species are continuing to reduce in number as temperatures rise. Experts say that as high as 30% of vulnerable animal and plant species risk extinction by the end of 2050 if immediate action is not taken to slow or stop the rising temperatures. The red fox, originally known to live in the North America, now living in the Arctic zones is a good sign of loss of biodiversity.
Animosity and conflicts within and among countries have been linked to the struggle for natural resources, such as water and minerals. While global warming does not directly cause war and hostilities, suffice to say global warming reduces the available natural resources, which is a recipe for even more struggle. A good example has been the war in the war-dreaded region of Darfur in Sudan and Somalia, which according to environmental and legal experts, has been intimately connected to shrinking resources and the struggle for more.
4. Collapse of world economies
The effects of global warming include floods, severe storms, all of which cause considerable loss, especially in the agricultural sector. More than average weather conditions can be devastating to the economy. For example, the hurricane witnessed in 2005 saw Louisiana lose over 14% of its revenues during the period of the storms. Additionally, Louisiana alone recorded over $135 billion in property damage, a loss that will take years to recover. Agricultural productivity amidst high temperatures is hampered, causing a direct impact on the ability of any economy to feed its people. The inability to address the issues of global warming could see the world suffer a $20 trillion price tag by 2100.
Research has established that more than 1 million people are dying annually due to climate change-related dieses. Changes in weather, especially a rise in temperature causes heart complications, respiratory problems and malaria. When drought and hotter temperatures combine, they create a favorable condition for the survival of disease-causing agents such as mosquitoes. For example, diseases that were once linked to tropical regions such as west Nile Virus, Lyme, Cholera, Dengue fever are rampant in almost all parts of the world, indicating that temperatures are rising across the globe.
Although some parts of the globe are experiencing high water levels and storms, other areas are experiencing the effects of drought and experts have estimated that the spread and degree of drought may increase by about 66% as global warming continues to rage. Drought increases the rate at which water levels shrink and this could cause deteriorating agricultural conditions. This is set to cause serious trouble dent to the global food basket, a situation that could worsen with the growing global population. As of now, Sub-Saharan Africa, India and Pakistan are the true examples of areas that are experiencing drought, and scientists project that this condition could deteriorate even more in the years to come.
7. Storms and Floods
Scientists have used climate models and related theories to estimate the impact of rising global temperatures. While modeling has been deployed to demonstrate the severity of this problem, clear signs of the storms and floods can show the extent to which hotter temperatures have affected the earth. In a span of three decades, the frequency of occurrence of strong storms and hurricanes has nearly tripled. Warm to hotter temperatures make storms strong, and experts have begun to link increasing atmospheric temperatures to increase in stronger and violent storms.
8. Extreme Heat Waves
Extreme heat waves are now being witnessed between 2-3 times more frequent, and experts say this rate could increase in the next 100 years. A good example is the deadly heat wave that claimed the over 35,000 lives in Europe in 2003. Scientists have linked this incident to the harbinger that was noted in the early 1900s. Stronger heat waves mean that the world would experience wild fires more frequently and that heat-related diseases such as cancer could increase sixfold.
9. Shrinking Glaciers
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that glaciers are shrinking. For example, Tundra that was once covered by ice is now melting due to hotter temperatures as evidenced by the plant cover. For the last one century, glaciers around Montana National Park have reduced significantly from by over 125 while the glaciers of the Himalaya, supplying fresh drinking water to over 500 million people have deteriorated by about 40 yards annually.
10. Rising Sea Level
Persistent increase in temperatures means that the world is experiencing rising sea levels at the fastest rate. But one may ask, how is the rising temperatures connected to rising water levels. Hotter temperatures mean that glaciers and ice in the seas is melting into water to cause an increased volume of water in seas and oceans. Scientists have been able to estimate the impact of the melt water from the Greenland ice cap. For example, the flow of water in River Colorado has increased considerably.