Climate change is defined as the change in weather patterns in a region’s overall weather patterns (e.g. precipitation, extreme weather, cloud cover, etc.) caused by increased emissions of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. There are many indications that the influx of this trapped gas is increasing and that humans are the cause of this increase. In fact, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is now much higher than in the last 650 000 years. It has grown faster in the last ten years since the beginning of continuous measurements around 1960 (Green staff facts, 2012).
According to several climatologists and scientists, the effects of climate change pose hazard and threat to any life form on Earth. As the climate change occurs, effects like the following are being felt in different parts of the world:
Health effects. Increased temperatures kill many people due to heat waves, and diseases brought by animals like mosquitoes (which are affected by the change in the weather patterns), and allergy attacks as the pollen season grows longer. In the year 2003, for example, an extreme heat wave in Europe caused by an increase in temperature to nearly 20˚C above normal led to the deaths of approximately 21,000 to 35,000 people in five countries. Other health effects include malnutrition, spread of infectious diseases, diarrheal diseases, and many more.
Increased water surface temperature. Warmer temperatures have also affected sea-surface temperatures, killing about 25 percent of the world’s coral reef in the last few decades. Not only that, climate change has also caused warmer lake temperatures, therefore increasing algal blooms, increasing stratification in lakes, favoring invasive species, and lowering lake levels.
Ice cover melting. The Artic Sea and glaciers and permafrost are slowly melting due to warmer temperatures. Today, the thickness of ice during summers is only half of what it was in the 1950s.
Rising of sea levels. Because of the continuous melting of ice glaciers and permafrost, and even of the Arctic Ocean, the sea level has risen to about 6 inches during the 20th century. Scientists say that this activity could worsen to as much as 23 inches in the 21st century, which is a big threat to wetlands, coastal communities, and to our aquatic resources.
Heavier rainfall. The drastic change in climate, and in temperature, has led to more intensive rainfall in many regions of the world. Heavier rainfall is dramatically devastating some areas because it also causes floods, flashfloods, and landslides, as well as more intense typhoons and storms, destroying billions of properties and killing thousands of people from all over the world.
Extreme drought resulting to decreased crops production. Increased temperatures have caused higher levels of evaporation and drought in many parts of the world. Because of this, agricultural lands are affected therefore withering crops and causing the decline of crops productivity all over the world. This means that world food supply would also be affected that could lead to a lot of other social implications.
Change in the ecosystems. Warmer temperatures have also caused the ecosystems to change. For instance, as temperature increases, species’ habitat are affected causing them to move to a cooler one or worse, die. Furthermore, the levels of carbon dioxide dissolved into the oceans are also increasing, making seawater more acidic thus bringing negative impacts on coral reefs and other marine life.
With all these climate change effects, and among others, it is the humans who are responsible, and will be greatly affected in return. As we are being exposed to climate change through changing weather patterns, and indirectly through changes in water supply, air and food quality, and changes in agriculture, ecosystems, industry, and settlements, our life as a whole will be significantly affected added with other turmoil in politics, economy, tourism, foreign and domestic affairs, and many others all brought by this dramatic climate change problem. In other words, if we do not act with this phenomenon, a miserable life on Earth will be experienced by the present-day generation, and the generations to come.