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The last couple of years has witnessed a rise the global temperatures and it continues to increase till date (1). In 2015, average global temperature across the whole surface area of Earth was 0.90°C (1.62°F), which was more than the 20th century mean temperature of 13.9°C (57.0°F) (2). The 2015 global average temperature was known to be the highest calendar year temperature, as well as the maximum temperature for any 12-month period on record (2). This rise in temperature across the globe can be defined as global warming (2).
Here, 19 unpleasant facts about global warming have been listed in random order that will highlight the effects of the process.
Accumulation of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide (CO2) and air contaminants in the Earth’s atmosphere traps sun rays and solar heat which would normally escape away from the surface of the earth. This absorption phenomenon is referred to as the greenhouse effect. It makes the earth warmer than usual thereby, resulting in global warming (1). The burning of fossil fuels mainly coal, release of gases from vehicular exhaust are a source of greenhouse gases and pollutants. These activities release large quantities of carbon dioxide into the earth’s atmosphere, thus leading to global warming (1).
Global warming would cause an increase in the global mean sea level from glaciers, thermal expansion and the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctic (3).
Records indicate that glaciers worldwide have started to melt. For example, the Glacier National Park which constituted nearly 150 glaciers in 1910 was estimated to have only 25 glaciers in December 2016. It is expected to have no glaciers over time (4).
About 25 to 35 percent of plant and animal species or more are at a risk of extinction due to the rising average global temperatures (4).
Deforestation, meaning clearing of trees, contributes to climate change. Trees play a significant role in absorbing the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. Less percentage of forest cover implies that large quantities of greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere, thus enhancing the speed and intensity of global warming (5). If this continues, rainforests are predicted to disappear over the next 100 years or so (5).
Coral reefs across the globe are in danger of extinction (2). Varying ocean temperatures have resulted in coral bleaching. Coral can recover from mild bleaching, but may not be able to do so in the case of long-term bleaching events (2). Coral deaths lead to degradation of coral reefs. This further impacts the habitats of fish and other marine species, including the ecologically and economically significant ones (2).
Some species of butterflies, foxes and alpine plants have shifted locations that are further up north or prefer living in higher or cooler locations (6).
Climatic shifts will change the natural vegetation patterns, wildlife habitats and crop growing seasons (7).
In 2000, America witnessed 9 most explosive fires in the history and the biggest one occurred in 2015 (8).
Since 1990, total emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) worldwide have risen by nearly 50 percent (9).
Global Warming and climate change also brings an increase in extreme weather conditions. There has been a rise in storms and occurrences of droughts in some places (10).
With rising temperatures, there will be an increase in the population of mosquitoes and ticks as well as the diseases carried by them (11). Global warming resulted in the emergence of new infectious diseases and it can make people susceptible to new health risks (7).
Natural disasters are also linked to global warming. Events such as floods, volcanoes and hurricanes will become more frequent with greater intensity, due to global warming (12).
Burning of garbage in the open is a serious concern in some developing nations. Trash burning releases high amounts of carbon dioxide, thus enhancing the greenhouse effect (13).
Another outcome of global warming is the decline in the quantity of available freshwater. There will be scarcity faced by people who rely on freshwater sources for drinking water and electricity generation (6).
With the melting of sea ice, species that live in such habitats and depend on them may eventually become extinct. For example, polar bears are finding it difficult to thrive on less ice and find fish. They have been recorded to have grown thinner than usual (6).
Air conditioners may keep you warm, but they enhance the climate change effect because they consume large amounts of energy. Also, air conditioning in vehicles implies more burning of fuels, thus releasing more greenhouse gases. Usage of air conditioners have increased globally and it is estimated that in future, large amounts of energy would be invested in cooling. (14).
Plastic manufacturing consumes alot of energy produced from natural gas and electricity. High energy consumption means an increase in greenhouse gas emission. (15)
We are likely to lose some foods due to global warming (16). Rising temperatures and extreme weather condition threaten the survival of certain corn, wheat, fruits such as grapes and nuts production are negatively affected by the increased temperatures (16). Coffee plantations have been invaded by invasive species and fungal attack that are an outcome of the growing temperatures. The frequency of cocoa beans produced will become less over time. Changed climatic patterns stress sugar maples, the tree that releases sap required for maple syrup production (16).
Emitting less carbon dioxide can perhaps reduce the effects of climate change. Burning of coal and fossil fuels, energy generation, cars and electronics are sources of carbon dioxide release (17). We can choose to no longer use coal and contribute to less carbon dioxide emissions (17). Since global warming effects have started, it is time to start taking actions. Opting for renewable energy equipments such as solar panels, solar powered electronics and buying energy-efficient electronics will lower the emissions (17).
- MacMillan, A. (2016). Global Warming 101. Retrieved from: https://www.nrdc.org/stories/global-warming-101#warming
- NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) (2015). NOAA declares third ever global coral bleaching event: Bleaching intensifies in Hawaii, high ocean temperatures threaten Caribbean corals. Retrieved from: http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2015/100815-noaa-declares-third-ever-global-coral-bleaching-event.html
- NASA (2018). Understanding sea level projections: empirical projections. Retrieved from: https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/efficiency/industry/technical-info/benchmarking/plastics/5211
- NWF (National Wildlife Federation (2018). The Science of Climatology. Retrieved from: https://www.nwf.org/Eco-Schools-USA/Become-an-Eco-School/Pathways/Climate-Change/Facts.aspx
- National Geographic (2018). Deforestation. Retrieved from: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/deforestation/
- National Geographic (2018). Effects of Global Warming. Retrieved from: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/global-warming-effects/
- GRDC (2018). Global Warming: Fast facts. Retrieved from: https://www.gdrc.org/uem/warming.html
- The Nature Conservancy (2018). Climate Change: 10 Facts about climate change and global warming. Retrieved from: https://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/urgentissues/global-warming-climate-change/help/10-climate-change-facts.xml
- United Nations (2017). Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. Retrieved from: http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/climate-change-2/
- Union of Concerned Scientists (2018). Global Warming Science. Retrieved from: https://www.ucsusa.org/our-work/global-warming/science-and-impacts/global-warming-science#.Wrk0eNRubIU
- Ginty, M (2018). Climate Change Bites. NRDC. Retrieved from: https://www.nrdc.org/stories/climate-change-bites
- NASA: Earth Observatory (2018). The impact of climate change on natural disasters. Retrieved from: https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/RisingCost/rising_cost5.php
- Thompson, A. (2014). For air pollution, trash is a burning problem. Climate central. Retrieved from: http://www.climatecentral.org/news/where-trash-is-a-burning-problem-17973
- Plester, J. (2016). Why air conditioning is a vicious circle. The Guardian. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/22/why-air-conditioning-vicious-circle-weatherwatch
- Natural Resources Canada (2018). Greenhouse gas emissions from the plastics processing industry. Retrieved from: https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/efficiency/industry/technical-info/benchmarking/plastics/5211
- Greenaway, T. (2014). Eight foods you’re about to lose due to climate change. The Guardian. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/vital-signs/2014/oct/29/diet-climate-maple-syrup-coffee-global-warming
- Denchak, M. (2017). How can you stop global warming. NRDC. Retrieved from: https://www.nrdc.org/stories/how-you-can-stop-global-warming