Climate change has been a concern for years now, and as more scientific data surfaces, the Earth's situation looks more and more dire. While soaring temperatures may seem like the result of a naturally changing climate, it actually means several concerning things are occurring at once. Here are just some situations happening around the world due to climate change.
1. Rising Temperatures in the Lower Atmosphere
As humans go about their daily routines within the lower atmosphere, they continuously change the face of the Earth through fossil fuel usage and deforestation. Some industries damage the land and surrounding environment so badly that it's no longer possible to grow anything there. These activities, among others, release a steady stream of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere faster than the carbon dioxide can be removed. The accumulation then leads to trapped heat and rising temperatures on the surface of the Earth. While large corporations are responsible for a large part of climate change, there are still things individuals can do to make a difference. If you're looking to lessen your carbon footprint, you may want to buy solar panels as an alternative power source.
2. Disappearing Sea Ice
The icy environment of the arctic is crucial to an entire ecosystem. For the last several decades, both the amount of sea ice and the area covered by it has slowly gotten smaller. With hotter temperatures overall, the ice hasn't had a chance to freeze and accumulate again during the winter. Warmer waters combined with melted glaciers and sea ice has resulted in higher ocean levels, which can cause floods and considerable damage to shorelines. Melting ice can also disturb the land around it, causing landslides. Thawing ice has revealed plenty from the past, like ancient artifacts and dead animals, releasing microbes that the human race hasn't dealt with in thousands of years. Humans now have antibiotics and vaccines, but not many were expecting anthrax and the bubonic plague to spill out of the permafrost.
3. More Humidity
Warmer temperatures cause more water evaporation, and the extra water vapor further aids greenhouse gases in atmospheric warming, resulting in a continuous cycle. The extra water in the air can exacerbate already dangerous weather conditions, like hurricanes. Furthermore, higher humidity levels could one day make outdoor hobbies a thing of the past. In a "wet bulb" study, scientists experimented in environments of extreme heat and humidity, such as those occasionally experienced in the tropics. They found that such conditions could make outdoor work and other activities dangerous and eventually deadly without "artificial cooling." Given that climate change will likely produce even worse wet bulb conditions, it is likely that agricultural industries and military forces will soon face significant challenges.
4. Heightened Wildfire Risk
When higher temperatures cause water evaporation and drier conditions, wildfires become much more likely with less water left to fight them. The heat makes wood, brush and even organic matter in soil perfect fuel sources. As climate change worsens, the area of wildfire damage will grow and the fire season will only get longer. Unfortunately, these dry conditions are also ideal for pests that weaken trees and make them more likely to burn.
5. Warmer Oceans
As the lower atmosphere temperature rises, so does the temperature of the ocean. Even slight changes in temperature could kill off entire species. This would devastate the coral reefs while creating the perfect environment for harmful algal blooms, which could damage even more ecosystems. These catastrophic losses would greatly impact the fishing industries, and shifting temperatures could go so far as to alter ocean currents. The warm air and shifting currents could further feed already dangerous weather patterns.
Climate change doesn't just mean hotter summers. A warmer Earth could become a more hostile place with fewer types of flora and fauna. If we're not careful, we could be on that extinction list, and the first step to change is acknowledging the damage already taking place.