The Effects of Climate Change Are Real and Impact Us All
Have you ever thought about the effects of climate change? What it really means and more importantly, what it might mean for you. If you have, I’m sure it’s something you’re concerned about as well. The last decade has seen a large body of research and scientific data all pointing to one conclusion. We are facing an imminent problem that will challenge our way of life.
1. Climate Change Is Really Happening
2. Human Activities Are Changing the Climate
3. Climate Change Will Affect Everything in Life
4. Droughts and Wildfires Are Happening More Often
5. Arctic Sea Ice Is Shrinking in Size and Thickness
6. The Oceans Are Becoming Warmer and More Acidic
7. The Main Cause of Climate Change Is You and Me
8. We Can Still Reduce the Damage If We Act Now
Climate Change Is Really Happening
The climate is changing, and the planet is warming up at a rate that is faster than ever before. That’s a fact.
Most scientists, around 97% agree that man-made global warming is happening. And that this leads to rising sea levels, more floods and droughts, and more extreme weather. These changes are likely to have a major impact on humans and other species.
The Earth is getting warmer because carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are building up in the atmosphere. They are trapping heat and causing temperatures to rise.
We know this because we measure changes in temperature, rainfall, ice extent and sea level with satellites, sensors, and weather stations. And because we understand the physics of how greenhouse gases interact with the atmosphere.
This understanding has been built up over many decades. There are thousands of scientists around the world who have checked and rechecked their findings independently and collectively. That’s a fact.
We know that humans are responsible for most of the rise in greenhouse gases in recent decades. Not only from burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas but also from cutting down forests. Those forests would have otherwise absorbed carbon dioxide. That’s a fact.
Climate change affects every living thing on Earth, including humans. More frequent droughts will threaten our food security. Rising sea levels will endanger coastal communities and melting glaciers will impact our water supply.
The term ‘climate change’ is sometimes used to refer to all forms of climatic inconsistency. However, as Planet Earth’s climate is never really static, the term more often suggests the move from one climatic to another.
In some cases, such as that of the present warming trend, it refers to the effect of increased concentrations of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.
Human Activities Are Changing the Climate
Human activities are changing the climate. There’s no doubt about that. If we look at the current events and the state of our planet, we can see that we humans have impacted the climate in numerous ways.
What makes this topic so important is that it affects us all, even if we do not realise it immediately. The climate change is already impacting us. But it will get worse over time if we don’t do something to stop it.
The world has been getting warmer over time and judging by the direction things are going, there’s no reason to believe that it won’t continue to warm up as much as 4°C by 2100. And this is according to a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The cause for this warming is believed to be the greenhouse gases which are emitted into our atmosphere from human activity.
What Do You Think About the Climate of Our Planet?
The climate of our planet is changing. And human activities are the cause. That’s the consensus of scientists, who also say that this phenomenon, being relatively new, is cause for concern. Because changes in the climate can have a variety of effects on all aspects of life on Earth. And while a lot can be done to slow these changes, there are no guarantees that it won’t get worse before it gets better.
These gases include carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. They trap heat within our atmosphere and contribute to what is known as global warming.
Carbon dioxide is the most common greenhouse gas, and its main cause comes from burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas. We use these fossil fuels for energy to power the electricity systems
Fossil fuels, greenhouse gases, deforestation and even farming are just some of the human activities that have changed the climate.
With the rise in temperature, changes in the seasons and precipitation patterns, and more natural disasters like floods and droughts, it’s clear that we can no longer deny the fact that humans have contributed to this change.
Climate Change Will Affect Everything in Life
Climate change can affect your life in many ways. It is already affecting our lives and will continue to do so for many generations. The impacts of climate change are broad and far reaching. In some cases, we won’t even be aware that climate change is the cause.
To understand the broad impact that climate change can have, you need to think about it from all angles. Not just from an environmental one, but also the social, economic, and health aspects too.
It’s not a simple story of rising global temperatures affecting the environment. It’s more like an ecological version of Jenga – with each block representing an aspect of our lives.
Remove one of these blocks and the ecosystem – or society – will change. Take away another block and the ecosystem – or society – will look very different.
The impacts on ecosystems are easier to predict than those on people. This is because ecosystems may only have a small number of species in them. Which means scientists can infer how they will respond to climate change.
Scientists look at similar cases where an ecosystem has been affected by a major event, like a volcanic eruption or deforestation.
But predicting how people will respond to climate change is much harder for two reasons: firstly, there are so many factors involved in human societies; secondly, people often don’t behave how we expect them to.
This can be because they don’t have access to information (such as climate forecasts), or because they don’t know what to do with the information even if they do have it.
Droughts and Wildfires Are Happening More Often
Droughts and wildfires seem to be increasing every year, don’t they? As the climate changes, it brings ever-increasing temperatures, which means more evaporation from the soil.
This creates a higher demand for water from plants, leaving less for humans. The result can be more droughts and wildfires.
One of the most dramatic effects of global warming is the increasing number and severity of droughts worldwide. A drought is a period of abnormally dry weather when there is not enough moisture in the soil to support plant growth.
As temperatures rise, so does evaporation from the soil. This means that during dry periods, fields dry out faster than normal.
In some parts of the world where irrigation methods are not used (dryland farming), crops can be destroyed by lack of available water in the soil during a drought.
If rainfall does not occur soon after a drought begins, vegetation dies, and fire risk increases substantially.
If a fire starts under these conditions, it can spread quickly and destroy thousands of acres of forest or grassland before firefighters can contain it.
Droughts can have devastating economic effects on farmers and ranchers when crop yields or livestock production fall below average due to lack of rainfall.
Arctic Sea Ice Is Shrinking in Size and Thickness
One of the most visible and alarming effects of climate change is thawing ice caps. The ice in the north pole caps has been melting for several years now, and not just at the edges — the cap itself is disappearing.
As climate change worsens, ice will continue to shrink and disappear.
The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, and that’s having a major impact on the region.
Sea ice is melting more every summer, and while it usually refreezes in winter, it’s not freezing back to its previous size. That’s a problem for animals like polar bears that depend on ice to hunt and travel.
But it also means less of the sun’s heat is being reflected into space. That has a vicious feedback effect. More sunlight is absorbed, which causes even more warming, which accelerates melting and so on.
The shrinking ice caps are already affecting human communities in the Arctic. Fishing communities rely on sea ice for food and shelter. However, it’s becoming more dangerous to live on ice that may break off or melt from beneath them.
Indigenous communities are being forced farther inland as their land becomes submerged in water.
Coastal towns are threatened by floods as ocean levels rise higher than they’ve ever been before because of melting glaciers and expanding seawater.
The Oceans Are Becoming Warmer and More Acidic
The ocean is the essence of humankind and Planet Earth. It generates most of the oxygen we breathe, absorbs much of the carbon dioxide produced by human activities, regulates our climate, and supplies us with food.
The ocean is a major source of income and jobs for many countries. It helps us transport goods around the world, eat seafood, and provides us with medicine.
The health of our oceans is directly linked to the health of our planet and ourselves. We depend on healthy oceans for food, jobs, recreation, and so much more.
Healthy oceans are also vital to other forms of life—from whales to plankton to coral reefs. Coral reefs made up of millions of colourful polyps may seem like an exotic phenomenon. Yet they’re incredibly important for our world.
Coral reefs provide habitat for fish, which feed communities around the world, and protect us from hurricanes and storm surges.
However, coral reefs are in danger due to global warming and ocean acidification.
As the ocean warms due to our use of fossil fuels, coral polyps expel the algae living in their tissues, causing the coral to turn completely white.
This process is called “coral bleaching” because the coral loses its colour. Eventually, this causes the corals to die. We’ve got to protect coral reefs from global warming and ocean acidification.
The Main Cause of Climate Change Is You and Me
This is a story about climate change that you’ve never heard before. It’s about what we all have in common – because the biggest cause of climate change is you, me, and all of us.
It’s the carbon dioxide we emit every day: when we drive around too often or heat our homes unnecessarily warm in winter or even flush waste down our toilet.
And it is also about what we produce with our money: If a new pair of shoes was produced in China, then CO2 is emitted there. If we use too much electricity at home, CO2 is emitted somewhere else.
We call this “consumption-based CO2 emissions”.
Our world has changed dramatically in recent years. In the developed world, people live longer and healthier lives than ever before.
The same applies to other parts of the world, but with a much smaller ecological footprint per person. However, many people still consume more than they really need.
This leads to an ecological debt that will be paid by our children and grandchildren at some point if nothing changes in our way of life and thinking.
We’re going to have to change course as soon as possible if we want to make sure that life on earth continues as it does today for future generations. But how do we?
So, use less energy in your everyday life: turn off the lights in rooms that aren’t occupied, turn down the thermostat (Spanish winter, eh?) And, even though this is a given, let’s try to recycle more.
Let’s slow down and think about what we buy. This could apply to everything from a pack of gum to the latest iPhone. We can easily change our routines little by little until we’re living in a much greener society.
We Can Still Reduce the Damage If We Act Now
Global warming is a reality—the coldest temperatures may occur during the summer months in a few decades. The more we drive and fly, the more we release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming.
To reduce our carbon footprint:
- We can recycle
- We can use public transportation
- We can use solar-powered appliances
- We can get used items instead of buying new ones
Greenhouse gases act like a blanket around the planet and keep heat trapped in the air. This causes our climate to change and in effect, disrupts the delicate balance of nature on our planet.
Global warming has already had observable effects on the environment. Glaciers are getting smaller, ice on rivers and lakes is less, plant and animal habitats are changing, and trees are flowering sooner.
Effects that scientists had predicted in the past would result from global climate change are now occurring. Resulting in loss of sea ice, accelerated sea level rise and longer, and more intense heat waves.
Today, there are many ways we can lower our impact on the planet. As we’ve discussed here, clean energy is available to any one of us.
The two biggest contributors to global warming are driving and flying. Therefore, it only makes sense that we should consider ways to minimise our use of cars and planes.
But there are simpler ways to reduce your carbon footprint as well, so think about what steps you might take in your everyday life. We mustn’t give up!
Yes, the effects of climate change are real, even if its future impacts are hard to predict it’s happening now and is caused by human actions.