The Changing Climate and What You Need to Know
As a concerned human, I’m sure that you are aware of the changes to our climate that occur gradually over time. But what do the scientific researchers say about the effects of these changes? Scientists are predicting that the planet will continue to warm throughout this century. And that it will have effects on weather, natural ecosystems, and other geophysical processes.
The Changing Climate Is Causing Chaos
When you tell people that the changing climate is causing chaos — whether it’s increased flooding in certain areas or massive forest fires — they disregard it as “alarmist” or “unrealistic.”
But once they live through it (like if a massive hurricane hits their area), they realise that there really is a problem.
The changing climate is not just a problem for the future — it’s already happening.
And it’s likely to get worse as time goes on.
The first thing that many people think of when they hear “climate change” is rising global temperatures.
But climate change is more than just rising temperatures — it also includes extreme weather events, changes in precipitation patterns and other geophysical processes.
The effects of climate change are being felt across the globe.
They include rising sea levels, Arctic ice melt, and an increase in extreme weather events such as hurricanes and tornadoes.
The changes are happening faster than many people think they would.
Extreme Weather Is Now More Common
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released a report warning that the Earth is at risk of catastrophic climate change if we don’t act soon.
The report states that we are already seeing the effects of climate change in extreme weather events, and they are only going to get worse.
“The world has been warming since the 1970s and this year’s heatwaves are just one example of how climate change is making what was once extreme weather into the new normal,” said the director of Greenpeace UK. “We need to act now before it’s too late.”
The IPCC report says that extreme weather events like heatwaves, wildfires, droughts, floods, and hurricanes are already happening more often — and will get worse as the planet warms further.
They note that global temperatures have increased by roughly 1°C since pre-industrial times and will continue to rise if we don’t act.
The report also says that people in poor countries are most at risk from these effects because they are less able to cope with them financially or physically than people in rich countries.
It notes that poorer countries may experience “extreme poverty” unless they receive support from richer countries through mitigation efforts such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The report also highlights the danger of “tipping points” — when a process happens suddenly and irreversibly.
This could include large-scale melting of ice sheets or changes in ocean currents, which could affect global weather patterns.
The authors write that these changes are already occurring, but it is hard to say how much they will worsen over time.
Future Hurricanes Will Be Wilder and Wetter Than First Thought
The hurricane season has intensified significantly since 1970, and hurricanes have also been hitting farther inland than ever before.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a report that looked at the past 40 years of storm patterns and data.
It found that the number of tropical storms per year has increased by about 50% since the 1970s.
The average number of hurricanes per year has doubled over that same period, while major hurricanes — those with winds greater than 111 mph — have tripled.
The study also found that hurricane rainfall has increased by nearly 20% since 1970.
And this is just part of a long-term trend.
Climate scientists predict that the changing climate will make extreme weather events like hurricanes more common in the future.
The fact that climate change is affecting many different parts of our planet at once means that the effects won’t be isolated to one region — they’ll affect us all.
The severe weather events of the past few years have been a wake-up call for many, but it’s important to remember that this isn’t just happening in one country.
The changing climate is affecting people all over the world — including those who live in developing countries where they’re already struggling with poverty, disease, and overcrowding.
The Changing Climate Will Make It Harder to Grow Food
The food system is already at a breaking point.
We are growing more food than ever before, but we are also wasting more.
And global demand for food is expected to double by 2050, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.
At the same time, climate change poses an existential threat to agriculture.
It’s already causing crop failures, drought, and desertification in some areas, while flooding and nutrient depletion are becoming increasingly common problems in others.
The consequences of all this are clear.
By 2050, climate change could cause global food production losses of up to 2% per year.
That’s enough to send prices soaring and leave hundreds of millions hungry worldwide, according to a report from the Global Harvest Initiative (GHI).
The changing climate will make it harder to feed everyone on Planet Earth.
But there’s another factor that could make it even harder to grow enough food.
We’ve been overusing fertilisers for so long that soils are losing their ability to hold water.
Fertiliser has helped boost crop yields in recent decades, especially in developing countries.
But farmers have been using it so heavily that they’ve depleted the natural nutrients in soil and water, which makes crops less productive and more vulnerable to disease.
Our Fresh Water Supply Will Be Affected by The Changing Climate
Climate change is already affecting water resources around the world.
Rising temperatures, extreme weather events and sea level rise are all affecting how much fresh water is available for people to use.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has predicted that climate change will lead to an increase in the frequency and severity of droughts, floods, and storms.
These events will cause more damage to water infrastructure, making it harder for people to access clean drinking water.
Because freshwater comes from both surface and underground sources, climate change can affect both sources in different ways.
In places where snowmelt accounts for a large portion of the water supply, warmer temperatures could lead to less snowfall and earlier spring melt.
This would mean less water available for use during the growing season, especially in areas where irrigation is needed for agriculture.
Besides shrinking the overall amount of water available, climate change may also lead to changes in water quality.
Warmer temperatures can increase evaporation from lakes, rivers, and streams, leaving behind saltier water that is harder for plants and animals to tolerate.
And increased precipitation often accompanies global warming—more rain means more runoff that can carry pollutants into surface waters such as lakes and rivers.
Many Birds and Insects Are Shifting Northward as The Climate Warms
Many species of birds and insects are shifting their populations northward or toward higher elevations to better match their changing habitats, according to a new study.
“The climate is changing faster than we thought,” said ecologists at Stanford University, who led the research.
“We’re seeing species moving up mountainsides and into higher latitudes as they try to keep up with the temperature.”
The findings suggest animals may need to migrate at least 10 times faster than previously thought if they want to keep pace with climate change.
The researchers analysed maps from nearly 1,700 studies that tracked changes in plant and animal ranges over time.
The studies were conducted on every continent except Antarctica over the last 100 years.
They found that over 1,200 species — including birds, insects, trees and mammals — have shifted their range by an average of 23 kilometres per decade since 1950.
Most of these shifts occurred in North America and Europe during this period because those regions had better monitoring networks at the time.
For example, the range of the European tree frog has shifted northeast by about 50 kilometres per decade over the last 50 years; the range of the white-tailed eagle has shifted north by about 20 kilometres per decade over the last 30 years.
The scientists also looked at how these shifts could affect the future of biodiversity.
They found that if the range of each species continues to shift at the same rate, about half of all land-based plants and animals will be at risk of extinction by 2070.
Continuing to emit greenhouse gases will exacerbate existing problems and lead to further impacts.
The effects of the changing climate are already being felt around the world, and they will continue to worsen as greenhouse gas emissions rise.
Some impacts are already unavoidable, and others are likely to occur in the next few decades.
Continuing to emit greenhouse gases will exacerbate existing problems and lead to further impacts.
Climate change can lead to more extreme weather events and make them more severe, such as heat waves or heavy rainfall.
This is causing floods and landslides that affect infrastructure, agriculture, energy production and other economic sectors.
It’s also increasing the frequency and intensity of droughts in some regions.
Climate change is also likely to aggravate water scarcity in many parts of the world, particularly in arid regions where demand for fresh water for irrigation or industrial use already exceeds supply.
As a result of climate change, extreme weather events are expected to become more frequent and intense in many areas even if there is no overall change in average rainfall amounts across the globe.
Global warming is happening. The scientific evidence is overwhelming, and it is not a matter of belief. It is a matter of fact.
We know that human activities are causing Planet Earth to warm because we have measured the increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere and the increasing temperatures on land and sea surface.
We know that the extra energy trapped by greenhouse gases leads to changes in our climate system – melting ice caps and glaciers, rising sea levels, and more extreme weather events like floods, droughts and hurricanes.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that if we do not act now to curb emissions of greenhouse gases, we will see further impacts on fragile ecosystems.
These impacts include:
- More frequent and intense droughts
- Increased risk of wildfires
- More intense tropical cyclones (hurricanes) with heavier rainfall
- Declining agricultural productivity due to shifting rainfall patterns
- Decreasing water availability in many areas due to reduced snowpack and glacier meltwater
The changing climate is already causing extreme weather events and widespread environmental damage. Our planet is overheating, and it’s getting worse.
Planet Earth is changing in a very clear way — there’s no dodging the reality of that.
Our climate is shifting, and we need to be aware of our impact on the planet if we want to do something about it.
There are many ways you can do this, but the most important thing to remember is that your actions matter.
This includes how you get around, what you eat, and even how you go about your daily life — it all has an impact on the environment.