Friday, 25 February 2011

Impacts of Global Warming

The incessant rise in average near-surface temperature of the planet, as a result of various natural occurrences and anthropogenic activities, is known as global warming. That definition of global warming may be technically correct, but whether it highlights the seriousness of the issue is a question that is difficult to answer. There is a lot more to know about this environmental issue which is acting as a catalyst for several other natural disasters on the planet. In our attempt to find out what are the impacts of global warming on the environment, we came across quite a few global warming facts which threaten our very existence onEarth.

Global Warming: An Overview

Over the last century, the average global temperature has increased by 0.32°F, and if the climatic models prepared by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are to be believed, by the end of this century the Earth will be warmer by 2.0 to 11.5°F. A mere look at evidence of global warming or evaluation of global warming statistics is more than enough to substantiate these claims. The fact that this problem has reached such proportion can be attributed to our inability to differentiate between global warming myths and facts to a certain extent.

Global warming causes can be broadly categorized into two groups - the natural causes, which include volcanic eruption, solar radiations, methane release, etc., and the anthropogenic causes (man-made causes) include burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, mining, etc. Whilenatural causes of global warming have always been there, and play a crucial role in maintaining the balance in global temperature, the significant rise in various anthropogenic causes of global warming, and rise in concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, is turning out to be of grave concern. Trees play a crucial role in the environment by absorbing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and therefore global warming and deforestation are also closely associated. Going through the following articles will help you get a better understanding of various other causes of global warming.What Are the Impacts of Global Warming?

So what will happen if global warming continues unabated? As the temperature continues to soar, it will trigger numerous changes on the planet - quite of few of which will affect us directly, while others will affect us indirectly. In order to make it simple, we have divided the environmental impacts of global warming into three categories - on the basis of who will be at the suffering end.

Global Warming Impact on Plants
Global warming will trigger numerous changes in climatic conditions, and this climate change will in turn trigger the extinction of various plant species. These plants have taken years together to adapt to the conditions in which they thrive today, any changes in these climatic conditions now will result in adverse effects on these species. Climate change, i.e. change in pattern of seasons to be precise, will also alter the growing season of these plants, which will in turn affect their reproduction cycle. It will be difficult for these species to undergo the entire adaptation process all over, and in this process many of these species will become extinct. Irregularities in precipitation, irrespective of whether it is drought or flood, will affect various plant species including agricultural crops. Going through endangered plants list will give you a better idea of the seriousness of the issue.

Global Warming Impact on Animals
If you thought the impact of global warming on plants was severe, the same will be even more harsh on numerous animal species. In fact, theglobal warming effects on animals have already begun, and a look at the list of extinct animals is full of evidence of the same. The Monteverde golden toad endemic to the rainforests of Cost Rica was one of the first causalities of global warming. It became extinct as a result of habitat loss, when extremely hot summers dried up the lake which this species inhabited. The list of endangered animals also includes a number of animal species which have lost their natural habitat as a result of global warming. The relationship between polar bears and global warming best explains the effects and consequences of global warming on animals. Melting of polar ice as a result of global warming has resulted in loss of habitat for this species, and this has forced the species to move further north. The same trend has been witnessed in almost all the biomes of the world, including the ocean biome wherein coral reefs are fighting for their basic existence in warm ocean water.

Global Warming Impact on Humans
Without plants and animals, it will be impossible for us to survive on this planet. We are dependent on these plant and animal species for everything - including the basics such as oxygen and food. Only plants have the ability to prepare their own food by resorting to the process of photosynthesis - the same energy is eventually transferred to us when we eat plants or eat animals which feed on these plants. We are just a part of the food chain, if any link of this chain is broken everybody, including us, will have to bear the brunt of the same. That was about our dependence on plants and animals, but our woes are not just restricted to global warming effects on plants and animals. When this hazardous phenomenon will reach its peak, we will have to face a number of problems. Global warming and melting glaciers are closely associated, and so are their impacts on humans. Glaciers act as freshwater reservoirs on the planet, and if they melt we will be left devoid of water to drinking.

Similarly, glacial melting at high altitude will also trigger flash floods in the surrounding. All this water will be drained into the oceans, and that in turn will result in sea level rise. As sea level continues to rise all the low lying area and tiny islands will get submerged. Maldives islands sinkingis one of the best evidence of this global warming problems. When water from melting glaciers enters the sea, the warm and cold water currents will result in conditions ideal for formation of hurricanes. As a result of this, the frequency of hurricanes will increase. Warm climate will also come as a blessing for various disease spreading insects, and thus some diseases which are restricted to tropical areas as of today will spread to various other regions. Extreme weather - drought, floods and lengthy or short growing seasons, will destroy the agricultural sector, and that will leave us devoid of food.

What are the Positive Impacts of Global Warming?

While the whole has been divided between those think global warming is really occurring or not, there does exist a group of people who are optimist about this phenomenon. These people are of the opinion that only the negative impacts of global warming are highlighted every now and then, but the fact is that there do exist some positive impacts of the same as well. These people argue that longer summer will mean longer growing seasons, and this will result in more crop produce. Similarly, melting of ice in certain areas around Antarctica will make these waterways navigable and help marine transport. Warmer winters will also mean that we would have face less number of devastating snow storms. While rise in sea level will turn out to be a boon when it comes to the development of tidal energy, formation of estuaries will add to thebiodiversity of the planet. A large section of the scientists who are working on global warming impacts refute these claims as mere optimism. More importantly, all these positive effects are easily overshadowed by numerous negative global warming effects, and therefore we should stop being so optimist and start putting in efforts to curb the hazards associated with global warming. Given below are some articles which stress on the importance of dealing with this issue.That must have given you a rough idea as to what are the impacts of global warming on the environment, with special emphasis on its impact on plants, animals and humans. It's high time we take the seriousness of the global warming causes and effects into consideration, and start working to save the planet. While the concerned authorities continue to ponder upon various global warming solutions at the international level, we can do our bit by resorting to some simple yet effective stop global warming tips to save our planet. Over the period of time, the problem of global warming has become so intense that it will take mammoth efforts on our behalf to reduce the intensity of various global warming effects on Earth, if not get rid of them totally.