Impacts of Global Warming
Rapid changes in the temperature
There is an overall warming of the Earth’s climate. However, some regions may experience cooling, or wetter weather, while the temperature of the planet on average is on rise. According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the 1990s was the warmest decade and the 1900s was the warmest century during the last 1,000 years. However, it is the rapid pace at which the temperature will raise that will result in many negative impacts to humans and the environment and this is why there is such a worldwide concern.
Extreme Weather Patterns
Most scientists believe that the warming of the climate will lead to more extreme weather patterns such as more hurricanes and drought; longer spells of dry heat or intense rain.
In South Asia, the Himalayan glaciers could retreat causing water scarcity in the end. While many environmental groups have been warning about extreme weather conditions for a few years, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced in July 2003 “recent scientific assessments indicate that, as the global temperatures continue to warm due to climate change, the number and intensity of extreme events might increase.”
As emissions of greenhouse gases continue to trap more and more of the sun’s energy, that energy has to be dissipated, resulting in stronger storms, more intense precipitation and higher winds.
Impacts on Ecosystems
An ecosystem is an interdependent, functioning system of plants, animals and microorganisms. An ecosystem can be as large as the Mojave Desert, or as small as a local pond. Without the support of the other organisms within their own ecosystem, life forms would not survive, much less thrive. Such support requires that predators and prey, fire and water, food and shelter, clean air and open space remain in balance with each other and with the environment around them. Climate is an integral part of ecosystems and organisms have adapted to their regional climate over time. Climate change is a factor that has the potential to alter ecosystems and the many resources and services they provide to each other and to society. Human societies depend on ecosystems for the natural, cultural, spiritual, recreational and aesthetic resources they provide.
Rising Sea Levels
Water expands when heated, and sea levels are expected to rise due to climate change. Rising sea levels will also result as the polar caps begin to melt. Rising sea levels is already affecting many small islands. The World Watch Institute reports “Earth’s ice cover is melting in more places and at higher rates than at any time since record keeping began”. Rising sea levels will affect many coastlines, and a large mass of humanity lives near the coasts or by major rivers.