Learn the basics about the effect of global warming on the environment.
Over the last 2000 years temperatures have varied, butt hat today, average temperatures are already one degree warmer on average than they were 100 years ago.
Some of the problems global warming may cause are changing climate, extremes of weather, problems for ecosystems, rising sea levels and ocean acidification.
The greenhouse gases are causing average global temperatures to rise, with the rise being much more drastic in some places such as the northern polar regions.
Patterns of rainfall will also change. Although a hotter world will have more water evaporated from the seas this water may not rain down as it does at present. Some places will undoubtedly have much more rain, causing flooding, whereas others may have less rain, causing droughts.
Another consequence of temperature change is that natural ecosystems will need to adapt.
With more energy in the atmosphere we will see extremes of weather such as more violent storms causing floods and landslides, also aided by the loss of forests on mountainsides as crops replace forest or the wood is used as a fuel.
Sea levels are rising, partly due to the warming of the oceans – water expands with the heat – and partly due to melting ice. As sea levels rise, so more and more of our coastal cities will be threatened by flooding, especially at high tides, in stormy weather and in low-lying countries.
Another problem comes from the extra carbon dioxide that dissolves in the sea and makes the seas more acidic. The warmer temperatures coupled with the greater acidity are causing coral to die, threatening the world’s beautiful coral reefs.
Another effect of global warming is that Arctic ice reflects sunlight back into space, keeping the planet cool. As the ice melts the reflecting white ice is replaced by dark water which absorbs the sunlight. This heat makes more ice melt which in turn allows more heat to be absorbed.
Another similar problem is that as the frozen northern marshy regions melt, methane (which is also a greenhouse gas), previously locked in the ice is released, adding to the gases in the atmosphere thereby causing more warming.
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