It’s fair to say that more people are waking up to the dangers of global warming (climate change) everyday, but it’s also fair to say that not enough is being done. Many people see global warming as a thing for the future, but unfortunately, that future begins now. We can all do something to help, whether that's being conscious of harm we create or helping to reduce wastes. Here are some of the impacts we are currently experiencing and others we may see within our own lifetimes.
Sea levels rise, Glaciers melt
Although the threat of sea levels rising by a few feet sounds small, it’s undeniable this will have a massive impact on communities built around shores. Rising seas and shrinking glaciers is one of those problems we think of as a future problem, or one disregard because it doesn’t sound that urgent. However, this is the wrong way to think about these bigger problems. Glaciers are slow-moving savants helping to regulate ocean currents, which produce weather systems and wind patterns. They move water and help to shape the landscapes we know and love. Ironically, we won’t have the chance to truly understand the consequences of this problem until it’s too late.
The rise in tides will change beautiful coastal shorelines around the world, a change of merely a couple of feet, will not only destroy the memories you once had of visiting that beach in Florida or shopping along a canal in Venice; but will keep future generations from ever being able to share in those great experiences without scuba gear. Something we hope won't happen to many of our favorite destinations worldwide, but an unfortunate reality if we don't begin to take heed to the many warnings around us.
As you read this article, cities around the world are in desperate need of new ideas and protections from the oceans and seas. Millions of dollars in resources and protections are being exacerbated, which either can't keep up with the climate changes or won't be completed in time to be effective. Sea defenses will continue to have to be rethought as vast numbers of people are being displaced from their coastal communities and it's only going to get worse. Areas like Manhattan, Miami Beach, and Venice may soon cease to exist or potentially be completely wiped from the future.
Plants and wildlife are changing
Widely called ecosystems but known properly as biomes, the specific areas in which plants grow are continuously affected by the climate among others. As areas become wetter or warmer, there is an inevitable increase of tropical-like plants and a decrease in other plant life. Also diversly this happens with dry environments as well, shifts in these biomes will create wetlands that once were dry and vice versa.
“The time is past when humankind thought it could selfishly draw on exhaustible resources. We know now the world is not a commodity, is not a source of revenue; it's a common good, it's our heritage.”François Hollande Davos 2015
Producing food for a worldwide community is already an incredibly difficult task, and is arguably one of the largest contributors to global warming. Meat production alone (cows, pigs, etc.) causes 18% of our total emissions. That only starts the adverse effects. Wetter weather, at the very least, means more issues with growing crops in many areas. Strangely enough, this will benefit some of the drier areas of the world, as weather shifts it will convert deserts to lakes. It’s even believed that the western United States will end up with 30 extra days of growing season per year (or maybe just wishful thinking).
There will be negative impact on many animal species and cause an enormous effects on wildlife living in these areas with a reliance on certain vegetation. Without abrupt change and care, we may also, unfortunately, see many animal species may become extinct. This change could benefit many fruits or vegetables of a certain kind while creating shortages or even extinction of others. Which again, is another unfortunate reality where future generations may only see an apple in history books.
Extreme weather will continue or get worse
Many countries are all too familiar with the dangers of serious weather, such as hurricanes, typhoons, and tsunamis. These events cause massive loss of life and damage to property that will only get worse. Weather changes mean disruptions to wind and current patterns, which are big contributors to the freak weather we currently see. Areas recently hit hard like Puerto Rico or Thailand may only be the beginning. Troubles like those only get magnified in areas that aren't prepared for what mother nature throws at them.
Without fail people are displaced in a frequency now that we aren't familiar with. Additionally, most if not all countries don't have the infrastructure to support these types of displacements either. Our inability to control or prevent these events will cause humans to migrate out of affected areas in the not too distant future. Animals of various types are already doing this, which we see with insect and bird migrations. Extreme weather affects all life on earth, along with our attempts to ensure sustainability, unfortunately, this is all subject to more risk, than that of the earth itself. The Earth itself has proven to be a survivor, above all else a formidable opponent. She reminds us of that when we don't change paths or forge ahead with a choice that she doesn't agree with.
6th Mass extinction, what's that?
A final point commonly left out is the scientific studies and theories on the 6th mass extinction events currently unfolding. Multiple studies have found and explained these items in deeper details, I'll cover just a few key points and leave the rest for you to uncover. Known scientifically as Halocene or Anthropocene extinction, its easier recalled by 6th mass extinction. What it ultimately boils down to is humans. Whether we're just gluttonous or daft, we can't seem to realize cause and effect, until it's too late.
To put this in perspective since mankind has evolved, more or less to what we are today; we've successfully erased around 50% of all life that once coexisted with us. Biological Annihilation as it's so eloquently put. The rates in which extinction occurs and the decimation we leave in our wake truly highlight how dangerous we are to our kind. It's said extinction rates are between 100-1000% greater than ever before. This continuation is due to overhunting, waste we create, over deforestation, and the list goes on. Long story short our means of survival may very well be the same means of our own extinction.
Our collective connection...
While only a basic crash course and much of this seems like "doom and gloom" it's important to remember, Life is our most precious asset . The good news is science believes there's still time to make some changes and there has been a positive shift in the world’s attitude towards climate change. We all have to seek changes to our lifestyles, maybe even habits, but most importantly become the change we want to see. Only with mankind united, can we truly begin to paint the future for generations to come.
P.S. here's some other articles to check out.
Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines
Sea Level Viewer provided by NOAA
There's tons of other articles and studies you can find if your interested.