Effects & Consequences of Global Warming
It's been previously explained on the site and in several movies and media outlets that global warming is caused by the release of greenhouse gases like nitrous oxide,
carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. This is not occurring at a natural rate either, because of the mass-consumption of fossil fuels and other environmentally damaging human habits, our climate and our Earth are in peril. This article will explain some of the likely social and environmental consequences of global warming.
"Obviously because global warming is an environmental phenomenon, the major damage done will be to our environment."
However because we live in our environment, any major effect on our environment will obviously impact us as well. Letting global warming happen will have serious and sometimes irreversible impacts on our environment, however projecting the specifics can be difficult. The gist of it is that as the climate continues to warm, there is more plant life unable to sustain life under the
hotter temperatures. Plant life, as well as being a major food source, is also necessary to life on the planet because it recycles carbon dioxide. As well as the mass extinction of certain plant species and drought, etc. that warming of our planet will bring, every time a plant dies it releases the carbon it collects throughout it's life back into the atmosphere. This essentially means that global warming will have a snowball effect once it gets serious, because as the temperature rises more plants will die, releasing their carbon deposits into the
atmosphere, which then will increase the warming effect, which in turn kills more trees. It's a vicious cycle.
Not only will our surface environment suffer, but our marine one as well. Coral reefs are being bleached of life, and the arctic ice pack has lost 40 per cent of it's thickness in the past 40 years. Species like polar bears and penguins that live on the ice pack are getting closer and closer to extinction as their environment degrades. There have already been reports of polar bear
drowning because they lack the strength to swim from one ice block to the next as they break apart, melt and become further from each other.
The warmer the climate, the more comfortable the breeding ground for communicable diseases. If warming continues, malaria, flu and other epidemics will spread. Bacteria will have a lot easier time surviving and thriving when they don't have the risk of cold enough weather to kill them off.
"The global sea level is also rising three times faster this past century than it has in the past 3,000 years."
A continuously rising sea means that coastal and island populations face flooding and even displacement if the sea level rises enough. For example, Richmond, British Columbia, Canada is already below sea level, if sea levels were to rise further, the levies currently saving the suburb would break and the entire city would be
Critics argue that because we will have to invest in new infrastructure to prevent climate change and global warming, because so much of what we now have depends on
fossil fuels, it will be far too expensive to convert our societies to sustainable living. However, what they do not take into account when they lament the cost of going green, is the cost of NOT going green. If even the most moderate global warming forecasts come true, we will have to spend billions. Increased instances of catastrophic climatic events like hurricanes and tsunamis mean that infrastructure will have to be rebuilt in many coastal areas. Entire cities may even have to relocate if sea levels rise considerably, as many predict they will. Is it not better to prepare for the worst, then to wait for it to happen and then ask,
"Why didn't anyone do anything about it??"
The initial cost of say, increasing building regulations to ensure homes are well-insulated and energy efficient will be far less than having to rebuild all of those homes farther down the line if a hurricane strikes. It will cost more to make our way of life more sustainable, yes. We will have to invest in alternative energies like wind, solar and hydro power, but in the long run, the investment will pay off. This is the only way to preserve our environment as much as possible, while concurrently keeping up our technologically advanced societies.