In yesterday’s post, The Global Warming Debate, we touched on the confusion surrounding the issue of global warming. In the second post on this issue, we will be looking at the varied dangers of global warming. Of course, this is an extremely large and complex topic. We need to look at the danger to our ecosystem, dangers faced by people around the entire world and of course, the health implications of global warming on all living creatures. Today we will only be looking at the dangers posed to earth’s ecosystems caused by global warming.
Quick Fact about Global Warming
What is global warming?
Global warming in its simplest sense is an increase in the earth’s temperature due to an increase in greenhouse gasses.
How long have we known about global warming?
Scientist began talking earnestly about this topic in the early 1970′s. They were warnings even then about what our global economies and processes were doing to the environment, but the debate has become more urgent as time has gone on and no real solutions have been brought forth.
I’ve heard that global warming is a hoax made up by people/governments for their own profit.
There are different ideas about global warming and there are factions that do say that global warming isn’t real. However, with just a little research, we can see that, indeed, global temperatures are rising, weather patterns are becoming more destructive and there are many quantifiable impacts being found on the world’s ecosystems.
The Dangers of Global Warming On The World Around Us
As rising temperatures melt glaciers and the polar ice caps, there will be a significant rise if ocean levels with accompanying coastal flooding. In every country in the world, there has been an increase in the number of people living along the oceans. There has been a slight increase in the sea levels already but not enough for government and citizens to feel it is necessary to address the issue. However, we should not ignore the facts. If the flooding of the coasts is as bad as anticipated by scientists who make their predictions using massive amounts of data from the last decades and are aided by computer weather models, there will be millions of people around the world who will lose their homes.
Changing Weather Patterns
Another serious effect of global warming is the effect it has on weather patterns. Of course, weather is never stagnant and some will argue that varying weather patterns is a perfectly natural thing. And, in a sense, this is true. However, global warming will most definitely exaggerate those patterns.
There will be areas not used to winter snows having severe snowstorms or worse, ice storms. We have seen some of this in the last couple of years in the southern states, particularly Olkahoma, Tennessee and Georgia.
There will be drought that will negatively impact areas normally used to enough rainfall to sustain farming on a massive scale, such as the midwest. Without rains, this area of the country – the nations’ breadbasket – will be unable to provide enough produce to feed the people of the United States. We also must remember that we export foodstuffs to many, many countries and this exporting is a major factor in not only our own economy but the global economy as well.
There will be more frequent and more devastatingly strong hurricanes. Just think of the higher than usual number of hurricanes Florida has been coping with in the last decade – not to mention Hurricane Katrina which nearly wiped New Orleans off the face of the earth!
Tornado outbreaks will increase in number and severity. We have seen this beginning in 1999 with the horrible Oklahoma City super-tornado outbreak and each year since then in various parts of the United States.
These are all horrible thoughts, to be sure, but we haven’t even considered the most destructive element of global warming’s effect on weather patterns. And that is panic. Suppose you are left homeless due to flooding, there is no water to drink because of a drought – no fresh water – only salt water. Not only that, the stores that are open don’t have anything to sell you because the drought has wiped out most of the midwest’s farmland and livestock. You’re on your own. How do you provide for yourself? How do you provide for your family? We need to think of these things NOW – not when they actually being to happen.
Loss of Habitat/Shifting Habitat
If the earth warms another 2 to 11.5° in this century as postulated by scientists studying this issue, and if we fail to reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels and deforestation, we will devastate our livelihoods and the natural world we cherish. According to some scientists, this climate change will cause 20-30% of species worldwide to be at a high risk of extinction. Do a little research online to see just how many beneficial medicines are discovered in forests. Should we lose these forests and the species within them it will be a devastating blow to world health.
With polar ice caps melting, many animals are shifting their habitats northward. And while this may not seem to be a bad thing, it does have an impact on residents in the areas and makes for longer migratory routes for many animal species which could lead to lower numbers as weaker members fail to make the longer migration.
Oceans Becoming Acidic
Carbon Dioxide pollution is absorbed by the oceans and forms carbonic acid. Even with small changes in acidity, seawater becomes corrosive to the shells of aquatic organisms. That’s not good news for most marine life. On top of that, weather is driven by evaporation from the surface of the oceans. With oceans becoming more acidic, rainfall over land will also become more acidic. Not good for humans.
As the ocean’s “incubator” for most of it’s marine life, coral reefs are an integral part of a healthy ocean ecosystem. However, coral is highly sensitive to small changes in water temperature and acidity. Just a small rise in temperature causes coral to shed the algae that nourish them – thus leaving the coral white. Statistics show that back in 1998, 16% of the world’s coral reefs were either bleached and dying or dead.
We all know that man is responsible for an incredible amount of deforestation. But now the U.S. Geological Survey has a report that even slight changes in climate could trigger ecosystem changes leading to mass deforestation. These changes could be triggered by something as simple as a prolonged drought or as complex as insect infestation due to the die-off of a competitor species.
We all know that in the end it isn’t governments or politicians who solve our problems. It’s us as individuals. It’s each person making a decision to cut back on air conditioning, to use a bicycle instead of the car when we’re just going a couple of blocks, changing lightbulbs to more environmentally friendly ones. It’s also us – as individuals – letting our politicians know in no uncertain terms, that global warming is something we care about.