This article looks at the different effects of global warming and the consequences they might have for the earth. Although there is some debate as to whether or not human activity causes global warming, the effects explained on this page are still likely to apply should the earth continue to warm.
Scientists, environmental groups, and other organizations continue to highlight the consequences of global warming. Such groups demand action be taken on a much larger scale than what is currently been done in an attempt to curb the future effects that global warming might have on the earth.
Changing Weather Patterns
Global warming has the potential to change annual weather patterns, bringing more severe conditions to many countries across the globe.
Changing weather patterns can result in droughts, floods, and storms becoming more severe and more frequent. This has the potential to cause significant loss of life and serious economic impacts for the country or region affected.
Countries experiencing long spells of hot and dry weather are also at risk of wildfires. In recent years, we have seen more intense and longer lasting wildfires. These events have resulted in significant loss of life, property, and vegetation.
Melting Sea Ice & Glacial Retreat
As temperatures rise, we continue to see an increase in the melting of sea ice and evidence of accelerated glacial retreat.
This process is highly alarming when you take into account how much of the world’s water supply is locked in ice. According to the USGS (with data from 1993), sea ice and glaciers contain around 1.7% of the earth’s total water supply. This translates to over 65% of the earth’s fresh water supply.
Should all sea ice and glaciers melt, there would be a global increase in sea levels which would have the potential to wipe out a number of communities in low lying areas.
Rising Sea Levels
Directly linked with melting sea ice and glacial retreat is rising sea levels. If oceans rise by a high enough level, this could cause significant flooding. This process would lead to the loss of life and/or serious impacts on a country’s economy.
Effects on Wildlife
Global warming doesn’t just pose a threat to humans, it could also have significant effects on wildlife. When sea ice melts and glaciers start to retreat, natural habitats for many different species can be lost.
Polar bears are in great danger of becoming extinct as a direct result of global warming. This is because they do much of their hunting on the ice of the Arctic sea. These hunting grounds continue to be lost due to melting sea ice.
A less known effect on wildlife relates to the fresh water that sea ice and glaciers release as they melt. This process can release significant levels of fresh water into the sea. With the sea comprising of salt water, any addition of fresh water will dilute the natural salt level of the sea. This can disrupt sea life that relies on salt water in surrounding areas.
Global Warming can have significant effects on agriculture and therefore has the potential to cause food shortages.
Failing crops due to drought can disrupt food supplies. In addition, rising sea levels could submerge large areas of farmland, reducing the earth’s capacity for food production.
Effects on Health
Rising temperatures can impact our health in a number of different ways, some even resulting in death.
Hotter temperatures increase the risk of heat stroke and other heat-related conditions. Newborns, the elderly and those with a weakened immune system are all at a greater risk during spells of hot weather.
Increasing temperatures can also contribute to the spread of tropical disease. As the earth warms, insects are likely to migrate – insects that may be carrying tropical diseases such as malaria. This is a key concern for many governments across the world who might not be ready to handle such an event.
With global warming, we are also likely to see an increase in injury and death. This is a direct result of more severe weather conditions such as flooding, storms, and wildfires.
There are many steps we can take in order to help prevent global warming. It’s not only large industries that need to take action to help and reduce the effects of climate change. Instead, everyone on the planet should be doing their part.