Deadly Consequences of Climate Change

9/25/10 by Melissa McGovern

Climate change has impacted the earth severely – and not in a good way.  Glaciers have shrunk, the sea level is rising, and plants and animals are going extinct.  If we don’t start making drastic changes now, the land and water we rely on to survive may not exist for our children’s children.  And those hardest hit by the deadly consequences of climate change will be the three billion people around the world who live in poverty.  Sadly, they have contributed the least to global warming, but they will suffer the most from the following consequences of climate change.

Changing Weather Patterns

One of the deadliest consequences of climate change is the effect it has had on weather patterns.  The number of strong storms has increased in the last few decades, and warmer temperatures have also lead to heavier rainfall and flooding in some areas.  Furthermore, in some areas, the probability of drought has increased because of rising temperatures.  And drought has led to an increase in wildfires.

Rising Sea Level

As the planet’s temperature rises, the sea level rises because warm water takes up more room than cold water, due to a process known as thermal expansion.  The rising sea level has eroded shorelines, damaged property, and destroyed ecosystems, such as mangroves that protect coastal areas from storms.  In the past 100 years, the sea level has risen 4 to 8 inches.  Scientists predict that the sea level could rise anywhere from 4 to 36 inches in the next 100 years.  This is frightening, considering that a 36 inch increase in sea level could turn all major cities on the east coast into swampland.

Endangered Species

Species that cannot adapt to the consequences of climate change will go extinct.  Animals have had to migrate to cooler areas in order to survive, but climate change is becoming so rapid that many animals simply won’t be able to adjust or migrate.  Scientists predict that one-fourth of today’s animal species will become extinct by 2050.  In fact, in less than one hundred years, polar bears are expected to go extinct.  Many polar bears are drowning because they have to swim longer distances to reach ice floes.  This problem stems from the ice caps that are melting due to global warming.

Health Problems

Heat waves have led to many deaths among humans.  For example, this year, a heat wave in Moscow took at least 7000 lives.  Global warming has also increased the spread of infectious diseases.  Insects that carry diseases, such as mosquitoes that carry malaria, are able to move to new areas that were once too cold for them since temperatures are rising.  The number of deaths caused by climate change is expected to increase over the next few decades.

The consequences of climate change will only lead to more destruction if people don’t take the time to understand the realities of global warming.  It’s also essential that we alter our behaviors in order to adapt to our changing environment.

Keep checking back because we’ll be posting more practical tips about how you can prevent climate change.  There’s hope, but only if you’re active in your efforts to change your lifestyle and encourage others to do the same.

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