As a result of man’s increased activities such as the burning of fossil fuels, global temperatures are increasing rapidly, with severe consequences to climate patterns, the wildlife, flora and fauna, and the health of mankind as well (IPCC para. 1), with human activities such as burning of fossil fuels is believed to have significantly contributed to this increase.
These human activities include burning of fossil fuels and deforestation (National Research Council para. 6). Global warming has had devastating effects on the earth and if we do not act fast to contain the situation, we can only expect these effects to expand in scale. The current essay shall endeavour to assess the consequences of global warming. In addition, the essay shall also attempt to spell out the responses to global warming aimed at mitigating its negative consequences.
Consequences of global warming on weather patterns
An increase in global temperatures causes sea levels to rise, and this can change the pattern and amount of precipitation. At the same time, we are also likely to witness an increase in subtropical deserts (IPCC para. 4). One of the regions that have been hit most by global warming is the Arctic region, where there has been a dramatic retreat of glaciers and sea ice.
Global warming has led to changes in weather patterns. For example, as a result of dry and hot weather, we witnessed a record-setting season of wild fires in 2006 whereby nearly 100,000 fires were reported. In addition, these wild land fires burned 10 million acres of land (Natural Resource Defense Council para. 3).
Global warming has also resulted in more dangerous and powerful hurricanes, more than in any other time in the history of the planet. Even if we were to experience storms of a similar intensity in the future, the hurricanes that will occur at this time will be more dangerous because of the higher sea levels that will more than likely worsen flooding, erosion, and storm surges (Natural Resource Defense Council para. 4).
However, even today, there are warning signs of the difficult days ahead, such as the increase in the number of storms experienced for the last 35 years, as well as the changes in ocean.
In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina, regarded as the most deadly hurricane to have ever hit the United States in the country’s history, resulted in massive economic losses estimated at $125 billion (Natural Resource Defense Council para. 5).
Wildfires and droughts are also expected to increase due to warmer temperatures. Greater evaporation and more so during fall and summer, shall aggravate the risk of wild fires and worsen drought conditions.
Effects of global warming on health
Deadly mosquitoes are able to travel to further distances during hot weather conditions. At the same time, the presence of carbon dioxide in the air owing to global warming worsens allergies and asthma. Even today, we have warning signs of the consequences of heat waves (Natural Resource Defense Council para. 5).
For example, in 2003, more than 70,000 individuals are believed to have lost their lives in Europe (Natural Resource Defense Council para. 6). These deaths occurred within a period of two weeks when temperatures rose to high levels of 104 degrees Fahrenheit. In July 2006, a severe heat wave affected most parts of the North American region, leading to the death of more than 140 individuals (Natural Resource Defense Council para. 6). This is despite the fact that these victims owned working air conditioners.
Effects of global warming on health
Deadly mosquitoes can be able to travel for further distances when the weather conditions are hot. At the same time, when the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases, this can worsen allergic conditions and asthma. We can also expect an increase in the severity and frequency of heat waves due to global warming, and this will lead to an increase in the number of deaths related to heat.
Even today, we have warning signs of the consequences of heat waves. For example, in 2003, more than 70,000 individuals are believed to have lost their lives in Europe (Natural Resource Defense Council para. 4). These deaths occurred within a period of two weeks when temperatures rose to high levels of 104 degrees Fahrenheit. In July 2006, a severe heat wave affected much of the North American region, leading to the death of more than 140 individuals (Natural Resource Defense Council para. 5).
In certain areas, global warming has trigged smog pollution, along with an increase in asthma, as well as pollen allergies. Local air quality problems can also be aggravated by hotter conditions.
Some of the warning signs of the effects of global warming on health include scientific studies that indicate how an increase in carbon dioxide levels may stimulate the rapid growth of such weeds as ragweed.
The pollen of this weed exacerbates asthma and triggers allergies. Allergies are worsened by air pollution. For example, diesel exhaust particles may work together with pollen, thereby ensuring its delivery into the lungs.
Impact on the wildlife
Increase in temperature melts the habitats of Antarctic penguins and polar bears, in addition to ravaging the coral reefs. As the global temperatures continue to rise, we can expect ecosystems to be disrupted, in effect resulting in ecosystem shifts (Dyurgerov and Meier 87). Already, we have warning signs of a looming danger here.
For example, according to a recent study that involved approximately 2,000 species of animals and plants, the scientists revealed the movement of these species towards the poles (IPCC para. 7). The recorded average rate of movement of these animals and plants was 3.8 miles per decade.
During their last meeting, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has shown how nearly 30 percent of all the animals and plants that the organization has studied could be faced with extinction in case the world temperatures keep on rising by at least more than 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit. The report also revealed how some of the polar bears have drowned since they are forced to swim for very long distances before they can get to the ice floes.
Impact of global warming on sea levels and glaciers
The speed of melting of ice caps and glaciers is expected to increase due to rising global temperatures. This is likely to result in early thawing of ice on lakes and rivers. Scientist also estimates that by 2040, the Arctic regions will most likely experience ice-free summers and that by 2100 sea levels shall have increased by as much as 23 inches, unless something drastic is done to arrest the current global warming patterns (National Research Council para. 6).
In their reports, NASA has indicated that we end up losing almost nine percent of the ice cap every time temperatures increase by about 10 percent. In the last 3 decades, we have witnessed the disappearance of perennial sea ice equivalent to the combined size of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.
Mitigating the effects of global warming
Activities of mitigating the effects of global climate change are geared towards increasing the absorption of green house gases from within the atmosphere and also ensuring that an emission of the same is reduced he goal of many developed and developing countries is to use less polluting, and cleaner technologies (Natural Resource Defense Council para. 8).
When these technologies are used, this may lead to a significant decrease in CO2 emissions. The threat that global warming poses to the continent has forced policymakers to come up with policies aimed at mitigating these risks. They include among others, the increased use of renewable energy. Another policy is the ensuring that increased energy efficiency has been achieved.
Over the years, the earth’s temperatures have been rising mainly as a result of such manmade activities as deforest ration and burning of fossil fuels. Coral reefs have also been ravaged, thanks to global warming, while the lives of polar bears and Arctic penguins are faced with danger. Inversed presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere worsens asthma and other allergic illnesses.
Global warming has also affected weather patterns, with the atmosphere getting hotter. This has led to drastic effects on the ecosystem, such as the frequent wild fires that we have witnessed in recent years. We need to take drastic steps to mitigate the causes of global warming. Some of these steps include the increased use of renewable energy and a reduction in carbon emissions.
Dyurgerov, Mark, and Meier, Mark. Glaciers and the changing earth: a 2004 Snapshot. 2004. Web. 23 December 2011. http://instaar.colorado.edu/other/download/OP58_dyurgerov_meier.pdf.
IPCC. Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report. 2007. Web. 23 December 2011. http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/syr/en/spm.html
National Research Council, America’s Climate Choices: Panel on Advancing the Science of Climate Change. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.
Natural Resource Defense Council. The consequences of global warming. October 2008. Web. 23 December 2011.