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The Expected Effects of Global Warming

Essay by   •  February 25, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  2,076 Words (9 Pages)  •  1,873 Views

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The Expected Effects of Global Warming

One of the current and most widely discussed environmental issues affecting the world is global warming. Global warming could lead to the end of Earth and the existence of man. Current trends clearly demonstrate that global warming is having a direct effect on rising sea levels, significant worldwide climatic changes, and the melting of icecaps. Scientists are trying to determine the how fast the Earth is heating up, and how it will affect the world in the near and distant future. Because the world differs in climate and geography, each continent of the world is reacting in different ways to global warming. "Human activities connected with economic development and industrialization are changing the world's climate in ways that may have significant and problematic consequences. More specifically, anthropogenic, or human-caused emissions into the lower atmosphere are increasing the natural greenhouse effect so that worldwide global warming is taking place" (1) "Global warming will be the greatest environmental challenge in the 21st century" Al Gore (3)

In Antarctica, the projected biophysical effects could be reductions in thickness and existance of glaciers and ice sheets, and changes in natural ecosystems with dramamtic effects on many organisms including migratory birds, mammals and predators. In the Arctic, additional impacts could include reductions in the extent of sea ice and permafrost, increased coastal erosion, and an increase in the depth of permafrost seasonal thawing. For Arctic human communities could suffer particularly from the changing snow and ice conditions. Specific impacts would include those on the infrastructure and traditional indigenous ways of life for people of the Arctic.Although there could be beneficial impacts due to global warming, including reduced heating costs and more navigable northern sea routes. In polar regions, specific ecosystems and habitats are projected to be vulnerable, as climatic barriers to species' invasions are lowered. Already Arctic human communities are adapting to climate change, but both external and internal stressors challenge their adaptive capacities. Despite the resilience shown historically by Arctic indigenous communities, some traditional ways of life are being threatened and substantial investments are needed to adapt or re-locate physical structures and communities.

Its projected by 2020 in Africa, between 75 and 250 million people will be exposed to an increase of water stress due to climate change and the effects of global warming. If along with increased demand, this will adversely affect the livelihoods of the people of Africa and exacerbate water-related problems. Agricultural production, including access and availability of food could negatively affect the African communities. African countries and regions are projected to be severely compromised by climate changes and vitilality. The land suitable for agriculture, the length of growing seasons and yield potential, along the margins of semi-arid and arid areas, are expected to decrease. This would further adversely affect food security and exacerbate malnutrition in the continent. In some countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50% by 2020.(2) Local food supplies are projected to be negatively affected by decreasing fisheries resources in large lakes due to rising water temperatures, which may be exacerbated by continued over-fishing.Towards the end of the 21st century, projected sea-level rise will affect low-lying coastal areas with large populations. The cost of adaptation could amount to at least 5-10% of GDP(2). Mangroves and coral reefs are projected to be further degraded, with additional consequences for fisheries and tourism. New studies confirm that Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to climate variability and change because of multiple stresses and low adaptive capacity. Some adaptation to current climate variability is taking place, however, this may not be sufficient for future changes in climate due to global warming.

Glacier melt in the Himalayas in Asia is projected to increase flooding, increase avalanches from destabilised slopes, and affect water resources within the next two to three decades. This will be followed by decreased river flows as the glaciers recede.

The availability of freshwater in Central, South, East and Southeast Asia particularly in large river basins are projected to decrease due to climate change and the effects of global warming which, along with ongoing population growth and increasing demand arising from higher standards of living, could adversely affect more than a billion people by the 2050s (2). Regions that are heavily populated in South, East and Southeast

greatest risk due to warmer temperatures and will likey experience increased flooding from the sea. Climate change could negatively effect the sustainable development of most developing countries in Asia as it encounters the pressures on natural resources and the environment associated with rapid urbanization, industrialization, and economic development.(1). It is projected that crop yields could increase up to 20% in East and Southeast Asia while it could decrease up to 30% in Central and South Asia by the mid- 21st century (3). Considering the influence of rapid population growth and urbanization throughout Asia, the risk of hunger is projected to remain very high in several developing countries further making living conditions uncomfortable. Endemic morbidity and mortality due to disease primarily associated with floods and droughts are expected to rise in East, South and Southeast Asia due to projected changes in hydrological cycle associated with global warming. Also increases in coastal water temperature would exacerbate the abundance and/or toxicity of cholera in South Asia.(4

For the first time in Europe, there have been many negative impacts from changes in current climate. The changes that have been documented include: retreating glaciers, longer growing seasons, shift of species ranges, and health impacts due to a heat wave of unprecedented magnitude.(2) The changes described above will project the future climate changes associated with the effects of global warming. Nearly all European regions will be negatively affected by some future impacts of climate change due to global warming and these will present challenges to many economic sectors in Europe. Climate change is expected to magnify regional differences in Europe's natural resources and assets. Negative impacts will include increased risk of inland flash floods, and more frequent coastal flooding and increased erosion (due to storminess and sealevel rise).(3) The vast majority of organisms and

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