Global warming — along with the cutting and burning of forests and other critical habitats — is causing the loss of living species at a level comparable to the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. That event was believed to have been caused by a giant asteroid. This time it is not an asteroid colliding with the Earth and wreaking havoc — it is us. ~Al Gore
What can we possibly do to help stop global warming? How do we solve a problem that seems too large to tackle and too complex to understand?
We’ve all heard about global warming blaring from our TV sets and radios… we’ve seen countless web pages and news prints. Can we really continue to turn our heads away and pretend we don’t have enough evidence to take action?
By the time we get evidence that’s convincing enough for the global warming skeptics, will it be too late for the world as we know it?
By not taking action now, are we putting at risk the only planet we call home… for the off chance that global warming is not really going to cause massive destruction?
Are we willing to risk the environment that our children and future generations are going to inherit?
The increase in global warming can cause a dramatic shift in our climate that can have devastating consequences… not just for the environment, but for our way of life.
What Is Global Warming?
Global warming refers to the increase in the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere. This results in the increase of our global average temperature.
It’s hard to understand why some people are still wondering if global warming is really occurring — the evidence provided is overwhelming.
It’s not reasonable to suggest that global warming is not occurring… just because we’ve had a couple of pretty cold winters lately. It’s NOT reasonable to compare “a couple of cold winters” to decades or centuries of overwhelming evidence showing global warming.
For most people — especially most scientists — the only questions remaining are how much and how fast global warming will continue.
What Are the Main Causes of Global Warming?
The atmosphere has a natural supply of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases. These gases capture heat and create a warming effect on the surface of the Earth. This warming effect is similar to warming inside a greenhouse; so, it became known as the “greenhouse effect.”
Without the greenhouse effect, the Earth would not be warm enough for us to live on. It would just be a frozen wasteland.
Before the Industrial Revolution, the amount of natural emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases matched what could be removed. When the greenhouse gas emissions and removal were balanced, the greenhouse effect was good — it kept the Earth just warm enough to be habitable.
After the Industrial Revolution, increasingly larger amounts of greenhouse gas emissions were caused by humans. More and more fossil fuels — such as, oil, coal and natural gas — were burned to run factories, power plants, planes, cars and trucks. These human-caused emissions added significantly to the natural sources of greenhouse gases.
As a result, the greenhouse gases are building up beyond the Earth’s natural capacity to remove them. Since these atmospheric gases capture heat, this increase in gas emissions is causing an increase in global warming.
Global warming has increased the temperature of the Earth by about one degree Fahrenheit over the past century… with the last two decades heating up more intensely.
Why should an increase of one degree Fahrenheit matter to us?
If you consider that the difference in average global temperatures between modern times and the last ice age was only about 9 degrees Fahrenheit, it becomes clear that one degree is very significant.
This increase in global warming can cause a dramatic shift in our climate that can have devastating consequences… not just for the environment, but for our way of life.
What Are the Effects of Global Warming?
By burning more and more fossil fuels, human activities are adding CO2 much faster than the Earth’s natural capacity can remove.
CO2 is the main pollutant of global warming. Studies have shown that even small changes in CO2 levels lead to significant changes in average global temperature.
Due to human activities, CO2 emissions in the atmosphere have increased by 31% above pre-industrial levels — there is more CO2 in the atmosphere now than at any other time in the last 650,000 years.
Increasing the amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gases increases the greenhouse effect. This intensifies global warming.
If we don’t effectively reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas pollution, it is predicted that global warming will increase the Earth’s average temperature by another 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit to 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100.
Even at the lower end of the predicted temperature, global warming and the resulting climate warming can lead to more intense storms, rising sea levels and more pronounced droughts.
At the high end of the predicted increase in temperature, global warming could lead to irreversible, catastrophic environmental consequences.
Global warming can lead to sea level rising. The impacts of rising sea level can include, flooding of cities, displacement of the people and loss of coastal ecosystems.
What Are the Dangers of Global Warming?
The Earth has been showing signs and symptoms of global warming for quite some time. For many decades, scientists have been warning all of us about the dangers of global warming… but, few people paid much attention. The Earth is “talking” to us again… it’s message is loud and clear. If we continue to ignore it’s warning, we will suffer catastrophic environmental consequences on a scale previously unknown to our civilization.
Dangers Of Sea Level Rising
Currently, sea level is rising at 1/10 inch each year. Water expands when it is heated. So, with the global warming effect of CO2 already in our atmosphere, sea level can continue to rise for many centuries. To make matters worse, water melted from glaciers can also add to the sea level rising.
The impacts of rising sea level can include, flooding of cities, displacement of the people and loss of coastal ecosystems.
* If sea level rises 12 inches, 17%-43% of coastal wetlands in the United States could be eliminated… with more than half the loss in Louisiana. If sea level rises 24 inches, the United States could lose 10,000 square miles of dry land.
* Many of our cities face a severe risk of flooding. Thirteen out of fifteen of the largest cities in the world are on coastal plains. In California, parts of San Jose and Long Beach are three feet below sea level today. New Orleans is about eight feet below sea level.
* Bangladesh is projected to lose 17.5% of it’s land if sea level rises about 40 inches. With coastal flooding, tens of thousands of people are likely to be displaced. Plants and animals will also be lost.
* Many islands throughout the South Pacific and Indian Oceans as well as Maldives and French Polynesia will simply disappear under the rising seas. If the sea level rises 20 inches, 80% of the Majuro Atoll in the Pacific Marshall Islands will be under water.
Dangers of Infectious Diseases Spreading
Cold weather reduces the spread of infectious diseases by killing infectious organisms and their carriers, such as, mosquitoes. Global warming could increase the spread of malaria, dengue fever and yellow fever.
According to the World Health Organization, malaria has already spread to higher altitudes in places like the Columbian Andes, which is 7000 feet above sea level.
Dangers of Global Warming On Ecosystems
Millions of species worldwide could be driven to extinction due to global warming.
There are only about 3000-4500 Bengal tigers remaining in the wild. More tigers will be lost in Bangladesh as a result of global-warming related rise in sea levels.
With a 7-9 degree F change in mid-winter temperatures associated with the melting of sea ice pack on the western Antarctic Peninsula, shifting in penguin populations has been observed. Adelie penguins inhabit winter ice pack while Chinstrap penguins inhabit the open water. Chinstrap penguin populations increased by 400% in the last 25 years while Adelie penguins decreased by 22%.
Dangers of Disappearing Glaciers and Ice Packs
Almost all of the mountain glaciers on Earth have been shrinking and disappearing over the last century. With melting ocean ice cover, wildlife and humans will be seriously affected.
Walruses and polar bears have been observed to be thin and in poor condition due in part to the melting sea ice.
Deadly Heat Waves Are More Likely and More Frequent
In July 1995, 739 people in Chicago died when the temperature hit a record 106 degrees F. According to the Centers for Disease Control, access to air conditioning could have saved hundreds of lives… but, 49,000 homes lost power and air conditioning.
By the second day of the five-day heat wave, medical emergency rooms exceeded capacity. About 23 hospitals were closed to new patients. So, ambulances had to drive around town with nowhere to unload their patients. The morgue overflowed. Nine 48-foot meat trucks had to be brought in to store the dead bodies.
The world’s deadliest heat wave struck Europe in August 2003. A staggering 27,000 people in England, France, Germany and other parts of Europe died from the heat wave. More than 14,000 people died in France alone.
Survivors of the heat wave also suffered from dehydration, heat stroke, advanced stages of shock and fevers as well as irreversible brain damage.
Health spending was increased by $6.8 billion over five years by the French government. Due to the heat wave, medical costs soared.
Destructive Hurricanes Are More Likely and More Frequent
Hurricanes are fueled by warm ocean waters. Global warming, which is heating up ocean waters, is predicted to lead to more intense hurricanes.
According to a 2005 study done by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the destructive potential of tropical storms has doubled over the past 30 years. According to a study done by Georgia Institute of Technology, the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has doubled since the 1970s.
The destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 shocked the world. Global warming is predicted to lead to more destructive hurricanes more frequently.
Global Warming Could Lead to Devastating Consequences For Our Economy
* If there isn’t enough snow or snow can not be created due to global warming, America’s $4.5 billion ski industry is dead.
* Global warming could lead to financial disasters for lobstermen. Studies have shown that temperatures ranging from 75 to 86 degrees F are lethal to lobsters.
In 1999, lobsters were dying in record numbers. By 2003, lobster populations were down 70% compared to 1998 levels.
* The taste and quality of wine depend on the soil and climate conditions in which the grapes are grown. Higher temperatures and less precipitation as well as more frequent and severe droughts due to global warming could have devastating effects on California’s $15 billion wine industry.
* And so on… and so on…
When you educate yourself about protecting the environment, you can teach others about what you learned. Even better, you can show others how to protect the environment and teach by example. Even small changes can make a big difference. Small actions can lead to huge effects when those actions are multiplied by the efforts of millions of people in the world.