Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Potential Effects of Global Warming

With all of the press and celebrity attention that surrounds global warming, there is a good chance that you are at least relatively familiar with this widely debated issue.  Yes, you may know that the earth’s temperature is rising and you may even know that rise is at least partly due to toxins in the environment, but do you know the affects that global warming can have on our planet, the economy, and human life in general?

Mean surface temperature change for 1999–2008 ...
Mean surface temperature change for 1999–2008 relative to the average temperatures from 1940 to 1980 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When it comes to global warming, there are many individuals who choose to believe that it is simply a myth or an untrue theory.  This is mostly due in part to the effects of global warming.  We aren’t currently seeing the horrific consequences that many predictions call for.  With that in mind, it is important to remember that many of us will not notice a lot of changes in our weather or our environment right away.  We will notice some, but many of the effects of global warming will not be seen for years to come.

As for the effects of global warming that we notice right now, we are beginning to see stronger storms. Of course, we will never forget Hurricane Katrina and the impacts it had on the Gulf Coast or even the whole country for that matter.  I'm sure many of you are also noticing an increase in stronger thunderstorms and more devastating tornadoes.

Just think of Joplin, Oklahoma, and many of the other areas that have seen absolutely devastating storms just over the past couple of years. Although stronger storms may be related to global warming, many are curious as to the numbers.  Yes, these storms, especially hurricanes, are actually decreasing in numbers, but when they do hit, many are causing far more damage than ever before.

Another affect of global warming that we are noticing now is the melting of icecaps and other glaciers. While this melting is something that has always been predicted, it is happening at a much faster rate than expected.  Many computer models predicted that the melting we are currently seeing today wouldn’t happen for at least five more years. 

Droughts are another affect of global warming that many are experiencing firsthand.  In the summer and early fall of 2007, as well as, who could forget - the record-breaking heat of 2012, many southern states, in the United States, such as Tennessee and Georgia, experienced devastating drought conditions.  In fact, these conditions are still currently a problem.  Even with water restrictions and bans, many cities, towns, and counties were concerned with the drought and their current state of having water.  In fact, many feel that they will run out of water soon if a solution is not found.

As for the future affects of global warming, we are likely to see a change in sea and wildlife.  In fact, we are starting to notice a few changes now.  This is most commonly seen with polar bears and the melting icecaps.  Many are finding it difficult to get food, as there is less ice for them to rely on.  In the future, many scientists and wildlife experts predict that polar bears will become extinct in certain areas of the world.  Until that point in time, we likely will notice changes in the ways that polar bears and other animals hunt for food.

Temperature predictions from some climate mode...
Temperature predictions from some climate models assuming the SRES A2 emissions scenario. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Flooding is also a major concern with global warming.  To many, however, flooding seems a bit ironic, especially with droughts listed as a global warming effect above.  When it comes to flooding, coastal areas are the ones that will see the changes.  The flooding predicted is likely to leave many coastal areas unlivable.  The rise in waters along many coastal areas is due in part to a combination of factors, including warming temperatures, the expansion of water, as well as the melting of glaciers and icecaps.

As previously stated, it is important to remember that global warming and the effects it can and will likely have on the earth will come in stages.  Just because you may not notice significant changes in temperature patterns or the economy right now, it does not mean that global warming does not exist or that it is an issue that we shouldn’t worry about.  The good news is that these slow moving stages may give us more time to take steps to stop global warming or at least lessen its impact.
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