Global warming is the name given by scientists for the gradual increase in temperature of the Earth’s surface that has worsened since the industrial revolution. Over the past two decades the effect has become more marked. Considerable evidence exists that most of this warming has been caused by human activities… that’s to say we have altered the chemical composition of the atmosphere through a build-up of greenhouse gases – primarily carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. What if we do nothing? Rising global temperatures will cause sea level to rise and alter local climate conditions, affecting forests, crop yields, and water supplies. It may also affect human health, animals, and many types of ecosystems. Deserts may expand and some of our countryside may be permanently altered.
What will happen in the future if we do nothing?
- Climate model simulations predict an increase in average surface air temperature of about 2.5°C by the year 2100 (Kattenberg et al., 1996).
- Further melting of the Arctic Ice Caps (at the current rate) could be sufficient to turn off the ocean currents that drive the Gulf Stream. Already in the Antarctica and Arctic, sea ice is disappearing at an alarming rate. The majestic polar bear and Emperor penguin, both depending on the ice to survive, are increasingly at risk.
- The IPCC Second Assessment Report estimates that sea-levels will rise by approximately 49 cm over the next 100 years, with a range of uncertainty of 20-86 cm.
- Sea-level rise will lead to increased coastal flooding through direct inundation and an increase in the base for storm surges, allowing flooding of larger areas and higher elevations.
- The likelihood of “killer” heat waves during the warm season will increase (Karl et al., 1997)
What can I do?
You have to go to work and we all like being consumers – but there are many ways you can help. Firstly, you need to recognise how you personally impact global warming. Visit the pages What Can You Do To Help and 10 Simple Steps to start saving our planet today.