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Global warming is a dangerous phenomenon that has been aggravated by human activity. The environment, as a result, has changed for the worse. The effects of this phenomenon are global and affect everyone regardless of geographical location. Below are some highlights about the devastating effects of global warming and, in some instances, their root causes are discussed in brief detail.
The Effects of Global Warming
Global warming is an international disaster. Its effects and control have dominated virtually all facets of modern human life. It is not uncommon to find even groceries listing themselves as being “eco-friendly” in a bid to attract environmentally conscious customers. The effects of global warming are not just about blowing hot air in the pursuit of delivering chilling information. This phenomenon has devastating consequences for all, regardless of geographical location. One of the most commonly known effects is the heating up of the atmosphere. Scientists have shown that there is a direct correlation between the increase in carbon dioxide levels and an increase in the earth’s temperature. As a result, the warmest years since 1992 have been experienced in recent years (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC], 2007).
This heating up has caused the melting of the ice caps at the poles (Gore, 2006). This has several effects on the earth. First, it causes the rise of the ocean level. Glacial melting would contribute to about 230 feet rise in the ocean level if it were to happen at once (National Climatic Data Center [NCDC], 2008). Sea levels have risen by an average of 1.88mm per year since 1961 but have increased to 3.1mm per year from 1993. These figures seem small, but if the ocean rises by just 3 feet, lower Manhattan could be submerged, and sections of Miami would be lost. In Bangladesh and India, close to 23 million people live within this elevation of three feet (IPCC, 2007). That level of population displacement and loss of property would have serious economic and social effects.
It is not just the loss of land; effects on biodiversity should also be considered. Data shows that melting glaciers change water’s chemical composition and temperature in the areas served by the Gulf current (IPCC, 2007). This means that sea life that cannot adapt to the new water conditions will have to either migrate or die. Coral life, for example, will be wiped out if the temperature and height of water change. In addition, mammals such as the polar bear and penguins will die out because their icy habitat is shrinking, and already their numbers are on the decline (National Geographic, 2012).
The third effect of melting ice caps is the increase in greenhouse levels (Gore, 2008, p. 8). Science proves that there is a considerable amount of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases trapped in ice bodies around the world (Phys.org, 2012). As these bodies melt, they release these gases into the atmosphere, which, in turn, increases the rate of global warming. Additionally, these ice bodies contribute to what is referred to as the albedo effect (Ashton, Tyrell, Spalding, & Gentry, 2012, p. 130). They use this to refer to the reflectivity of a geographical feature directly. Ice bodies reflect back more sunlight, thus contributing to the cooling effect of the earth. As they melt, instead of reflective ice, there occurs dark, heat-absorbing water masses. This also increases the temperature of the earth. Both of these effects compound the global warming problem.
Apart from increasing temperature, there is the oxymoron of global warming causing temperature plunges. It may sound off to blame global warming for this effect, but it does. Cold waves are “an unusually large and rapid drop in temperature over a short period of time” (Merriam-Webster, 2012). These cold encounters cause temperature drops of as low as -62 degrees Centigrade and are very destructive (Mani, 2010, p. 118). They freeze power lines, destroy pipes and cause transportation problems. Many people have died of hypothermia, and large areas of crops have been destroyed by cold waves around the world (Maslin, 2007, p. 59). Cold waves are created by changing climatic conditions related to melting ice caps and ocean currents. The seas absorb more heat, and polar winds are redirected due to melting ice causing this phenomenon (IPCC, 2007).
Global warming has caused changing weather patterns, ensuring that weather phenomena have become extreme (IPCC, 2007). Of recent concern is the increase in the number and intensity of storm weather reports. Where there is usually wet weather, the storms have increased in intensity and rainfall amount, causing floods and violent thunderstorms. Also, in areas where there is drought, these drought conditions have become prolonged. In some parts of the world, the violence of thunderstorms has increased by a staggering 100% (Environmental Graffiti, 2012). In addition, the heating up of oceans has seen the rise of violent hurricanes and cyclones (National Geographic, 2012).
Another interesting effect relates to geology. Global warming has been linked to increased volcanic and tsunami activity. The glacial masses put considerable pressure on the earth’s crust. As they melt and become lighter, they cause unexpected movement within the earth’s crust, which in turn causes volcanic and tsunami activity (IPCC, 2007). As the earth warms up, some pests and diseases thrive more in new warming up areas. Mosquitoes that spread malaria, yellow fever, and dengue have migrated north to new countries (National Geographic, 2012; Mani, 2010, p. 49). Pests such as the spruce bark beetle have wreaked havoc on spruce trees in Alaska on an area of about four million acres (Ashton, 2012, p. 88).
These deadly effects will only keep on getting worse the more global warming continues to exert its toll. This calls for fast measures to be undertaken by all stakeholders to come up with a quick remedy to global warming. Failure to do so will see more adverse effects arising due to global warming. With all that is taking place as a result of global warming, it is sad to see how major policymakers are not taking these warnings as seriously as they need to be.
Ashton, M., Tyrell, M., Spalding, D., & Gentry, B. (2012). Managing forest carbon in a
changing climate. Rotterdam, Netherlands: Springer.
Gore, A. (2006). An inconvenient truth: The planetary emergency of global warming
and what we can do about it. New York, NY: Rodale.
IPCC. (2007). Climate change 2007: Synthesis report. Retrieved from:
Mani, C. (2010). Effects of global warming. London, England: Oxford Book Company.
Maslin, M. (2007). Global warming: Causes, effects and the future. Minneapolis, MN:
MBI Publishing Company.
Merriam-Webster. (2012). Cold wave. Retrieved from
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NCDC. (2008, August 20). Global warming. Retrieved from
PhysOrg. (2012, July 23). Rise in temperatures and CO2 follow each other closely in
climate change. Retrieved from http://phys.org/news/2012-07-temperatures- CO2-climate.html
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