Whether you are a believer or skeptic it’s impossible to deny that global warming is taking place. A large percentage of climate scientists point the finger at mankind for the majority of the temperature increase and our burning of fossil fuels as the main culprit. The Intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) has predicted that global temperatures will continue to rise much quicker than they had originally reported.
Politicians and big business have now woken up to the dangers a severe change in the climate could cause and are sponsoring efforts to reduce the number of pollutants and greenhouse gases we release into the atmosphere.
Since the beginning of the 19th Century, it has been predicted that global temperatures have increased by one-degree Fahrenheit, and although this might not seem like a great amount it has led to increased flooding in coastal areas, droughts, hurricanes and a steady rise in sea levels. Glacier retreat and the shrinking of the arctic has led to the potential danger of extinction of some species of animals such as polar bears, whose natural habitat is quickly disappearing.
Some scientists have even predicted that the year 2040 could be the first ice-free summer the arctic will see.
As I said above it has been predicted that temperatures will only increase and if we continue adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere at our current rate, we could see them rise another 3 to 9% by 2001.
A rise in temperature such as this could be devastating both environmentally and economically.
• There would be an increase in the number of heatwaves and droughts Africa and Europe would suffer the worst.)
• Entire species could be wiped out (Polar Bears / Penguins.)
• Hurricanes would increase in frequency and strength due to the warmer oceans.
• It’s been predicted that by 2100 the oceans will have risen by 3 feet (due to melting ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland.) This would have the effect of displacing over 600 million people. China, India and Bangladesh would be greatly affected as well as some cities along the US East Coast.
• Coral reefs are disappearing quicker than was originally thought and a rise in temperatures would only speed the process up.
• Major food shortages and starvation. Crop yields for the major soft commodities such as rice, corn and wheat fall by 10% for every one degree increase in temperature. Couple this with the fact that the world population is steadily increasing and is predicted to be at 9 billion by 2050 and there is a major humanitarian crisis just waiting to happen.
• Increase in Conflicts. As countries experience water and food shortages there will be an increase in the number of conflicts seen globally. There are already problems in the world today over access to water and this will only get worse. A study from the UN warns that 'climate apartheid' scenario looming. where the wealthy pay to escape overheating, hunger, and conflict while the rest of the world is left to suffer.
• A recent scientific article published in nature talks of the danger a rise in global temperature could have on the frozen methane gas in the worlds deep oceans and permafrost. There are over 10,000 gigatons of methane locked up in these deposits and if they were to be released we could experience an environmental doomsday. Where temperatures increase by tens of degrees not singular digits.
• Humans have managed to survive droughts, floods, hurricanes, extreme cold and other extreme weather conditions, but entire societies have collapsed from dramatic climate changes.