Polar Ice Caps Are Melting
Global warming is causing a plethora of interrelated environmental, social and economic challenges. Learn about these challenges so you can make green changes to help curb the effects.
Rising temperatures as a result of global warming cause polar ice caps to melt. There is significant scientific evidence that proves these ice caps are melting, which affects bodies of water across the earth. Water levels may rise, and some scientists have predicted that parts of Manhattan will be underwater by the middle of the century.
Animals Lose Their Habitats
Global warming alters the earth's climates and many animals are losing their habits because of this. Certain species can't survive in warm climates and are forced to migrate elsewhere to find food. This disrupts the natural chain, and predators in turn follow their prey. Animals may end up in areas settled by humans, which further endangers their lives.
Increased Coastal Flooding
Scientists believe that low-lying coastal areas around the planet will eventually be underwater, but in the meantime coastal storms and sea surges are becoming more frequent and stronger. Hurricane Sandy which flooded parts of New York City in 2012 is a recent example.
The Earth Dries Up
It's no surprise that global warming is connected to drought. Areas that are already deserts will lose what vegetation and animal population they already have, causing starvation for people who live in those areas. In more temperate climates, droughts could kill crops and result in major food shortages across the world.
The intensification of drought from global warming increases the likelihood of catastrophic fires. One recent study determined that global warming could cause a 55 percent increase in forest fires in the state of California by the end of the century if left unchecked.
Though the earth's average temperature is creeping upward as a result of global warming, on the whole, weather patterns are becoming more extreme. One result is that places with typically mild winters, such as Atlanta, have had numerous catastrophic winter storms in recent years.
Changes in climate are forcing farmers to change their growing practices. As weather patterns change and ecological cycles are disrupted, pest infestations are increasing in some areas.
An astounding number of humans have lost their lives during record-breaking heat waves in recent years, including 70,000 Europeans in the summer of 2003. Smog is exacerbated by global warming, causing increased respiratory distress to those afflicted by asthma and great discomfort to other city dwellers around the world.
Global Warming Affects Economies
Global warming also affects the economy. Increasingly frequent natural disasters like flooding and agricultural losses resulting from the effects of climate change already cost taxpayers billions of dollars each year.
Social and Political Unrest
The fiscal impacts and social turmoil caused by natural disasters threatens political stability in developing countries. As the environment changes, people whose livelihoods depend on subsistence activities are increasingly displaced, leading to conflict, famine and an increased reliance on international aid.
The results of global warming are just beginning to reveal themselves, but it is already clear that the cumulative effects of this manmade disaster will be one of the greatest challenges humanity has ever faced. By making the choice to adopt a green lifestyle, each individual on the planet can make a small difference and help to leave a more hospitable world for future generations.