Global Warming and Climate Change
Climate change has caused heating and cooling of the Earth over thousands of earth. However these changes have been gradual enough for wildlife and habitats to adapt and survive these changes. The climate change in recent history over the past 100 - 200 years is quite different to the changes that the earth has previously experienced. The main difference is that the changes are now occurring much faster than ever before. The Earth’s average temperature has warmed by about 0.76°C over the past 100 years, with most of this warming occurring in the past 20 years.
There is overwhelming scientific evidence that the greenhouse gas emissions released by human activities have caused the world to warm. This scientific evidence is being supported by majority of scientists, academics and subject experts from all over the world.
The impacts of climate change are already being experienced worldwide. Rising temperatures will bring hotter days in summer and milder winters; changing rainfall patterns will result in longer periods of drought and rising sea levels will affect millions of people living in coastal communities.
World-wide temperatures are expected to rise by 1-5°C than it is now. This temperature rise may appear small, but small rises in temperature translate into big changes for the world’s climate. This is because the amount of extra energy needed to increase the world’s temperature, even by a little, is vast. The rise in average temperature is expected to produce changes in the frequency of extremely hot days and fewer frosts.
More frequent droughts and floods and more intense storms and cyclones
Changes in rainfall patterns and increased evaporation, combined with El Niño events, are likely to produce more frequent and prolonged droughts. Major floods that used to occur only once in 100 years could take place every 10 or 20 years. Floods can cost human lives, result in billions of dollars worth of damage, and wreak havoc with agriculture and industries. Global warming could lead to more intense storms and cyclones. It is also predicted that more intense tropical cyclones will produce more severe oceanic storm surges, which are likely to be further exacerbated by sea level rise.
Retreating glaciers and sea level rises
Glaciers are retreating at an unprecedented rate, changing the entire ecology of mountain habitats and reducing the available water supply. Glaciers are extremely important because they are particularly susceptible to climate change and their loss directly affects human populations and ecosystems. Continued and widespread glacial melting this century will lead to floods and water shortages for millions of people.