To understand the impacts of Global Warming, you should first understand what global warming is. Global Warming in simple terms means the gradual heating up of the Earth’s surface which includes land, oceans and the atmosphere.
It has been researched that since the late nineteenth century, the average temperature of the Earth has increased by 1.40 Fahrenheit. It is projected that this would further increase by another 20 to 11.50 Fahrenheit over the next 100 years.
Heating up of the earth is a natural occurrence but this sudden acceleration in the heat is due to manmade factors. A definite link has been established between human activities and global warming.
The Greenhouse Effect:
The greenhouse effect is the first step towards global warming. What is the greenhouse effect? Solar radiation passes through the atmosphere to the surface of the Earth. This radiation is absorbed by the Earth’s surface and radiated back upward as heat. The various gases in the Earth’s atmosphere absorb about 90% of this heat and radiate it back to the surface of the Earth which then gets warmed up to a temperature of around 59 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the optimum temperature which can sustain life on Earth. This is known as the Greenhouse Effect.
What causes Global warming?
Human activity introduces certain types of gases in the atmosphere. The most prominent among them is Carbon Dioxide (CO2) followed by Methane (CH4). There is CO2 in the atmosphere naturally. This is further augmented by manmade activities such as deforestation and fossil-fuel burning. Methane is released through mining, the mass raising of livestock and use of landfills. These two gases contribute the most. This causes the temperature to rise and thus the earth starts heating up comparatively faster. This is in short known as Global Warming.
What are the effects of Global Warming?
The main effect of Global warming is climatic changes.
a) Climatic changes: The entire Earth from the North to the South Pole is getting heated up. This could have dangerous repercussions. Some of these are already visible.
1. Due to the increased temperature levels the ice at the Poles has started melting. This has resulted in reduction of the number of natural glaciers such as West Antarctica, Greenland.
2. It has affected animal life in those areas and it has been researched that the number of penguin breeding pairs has reduced from 32000 to 11000 in a short span of 30 years.
3. The melting of the glaciers has resulted in the rising of the seal levels.
4. Certain animal species of butterflies, foxes etc have relocated to the upper regions of the Alpine mountains towards cooler climates.
5. The precipitation i.e. the rain and snowfall has increased over the years.
b) Changes to the Oceans: The oceans serve as sink for the CO2 absorbing as much as they can. But the increased level of CO2 has caused the acidification of the oceans which can affect marine life to a great extent.
c) Oxygen Depletion: The increase in the levels of CO2 has a corresponding effect on the oxygen levels. This is further affected by indiscriminate deforestation and a stage might come where the oxygen levels will be barely able to sustain life.
d) Human and Animal Life: The melting of the glaciers has caused huge inflow of water into the rivers causing unusual floods and loss to life and property. All this water flows down to the sea which increases the sea water levels and hence the lives of people living in the coastal areas are affected highly.
There are certain effects which are actually waiting to happen in the future. Some of them are as follows.
- Hurricanes and storms are likely to get stronger.
- Floods and droughts will increase manifold.
- The fresh water availability will reduce. If the rate of meting continues the glaciers will get depleted leaving thousands of people relying on it for water and electricity without a source.
- Diseases such as malaria could be on the rise due to increase in the mosquito population.
- Certain animals like the polar bear and reindeer could become extinct.These are in short the effects and impacts of Global Warming.