How climate change affect lives on earth?
We’re facing the biggest environmental challenge our generation has ever seen. No matter what we’re passionate about, something we care about will be affected by climate change.
Over the past 150 years, we’ve changed the balance of our planet by living beyond our means. We’ve burnt huge amounts of fossil fuels (such as coal, oil, gas), bred huge amounts of methane-producing livestock and cut down vast swathes of forests, which would naturally absorb carbon dioxide from the air.
Let’s see how climate change affect on earth -
Forests are vitally important as they soak up carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming, and help regulate the world’s climate. They’re also home to countless plant and animal species.
Impacts vary in different kinds of forests. Sub-Arctic boreal forests are likely to be particularly badly affected, with tree lines gradually retreating north as temperatures rise. In tropical forests such as the Amazon, where there’s abundant biodiversity, even modest levels of climate change can cause high levels of extinction. When large areas of forest are destroyed it’s disastrous for the local species and communities that rely on them. Dying trees emit their stores of carbon dioxide, adding to atmospheric greenhouse gases and setting us on a course for runaway global warming.
Climate change is having serious impacts on the world’s water systems through more flooding and droughts. Warmer air can hold a higher water content, which makes rainfall patterns more extreme. Rivers and lakes supply drinking water for people and animals and are a vital resource for farming and industry. Freshwater environments around the world are already under excessive pressure from drainage, dredging, damming, pollution, extraction, silting and invasive species. Climate change only exacerbates the problem and makes this worse. Extremes of drought and flooding will become more common, causing displacement and conflict.
In mountainous regions, melting glaciers are impacting on freshwater ecosystems. Himalayan glaciers feed great Asian rivers such as the Yangtze, Yellow, Ganges, Mekong, and Indus. Over a billion people rely on these glaciers for drinking water, sanitation, agriculture, and hydroelectric power.
Oceans are vital ‘carbon sinks’, meaning that they absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide, preventing it from reaching the upper atmosphere. Increased water temperatures and higher carbon dioxide concentrations than normal, which make oceans more acidic, are already having an impact on oceans. Coral reefs are, particularly at risk. Sensitive coral and algae that live on it are starved of oxygen, causing dramatic bleaching and possibly the eventual death of the coral.
If global warming remains on its upward path, expect that by 2050 just 5% of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – the world’s largest coral reef – will remain. It’s not only a tragedy for wildlife: around half a billion people rely on fish from coral reefs as their main source of protein.
Climate change is amplified in the polar regions. The earth’s north and south extremities are crucial for regulating our planet’s climate and are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of global warming, which has global consequences.
In the Arctic - Average air temperatures in the region have increased by about 5°C over the last 100 years. Recent data shows that there’ll be almost no summer sea ice cover left in the Arctic in the next few decades. The effects won't just be felt by the habitats and species such that rely upon this area - they'll be dramatic in the entire northern hemisphere.
In Antarctica - The Antarctic ice sheet is the largest single mass of ice on earth, accounting for around 90% of all freshwater on the earth's surface and spanning almost 14 million sq km. This ice plays a vitally important role in influencing the world’s climate, reflecting back the sun’s energy and helping to regulate global temperatures. Parts of the West Antarctic Peninsula are among the fastest-warming places on earth. Even small-scale melting is likely to have significant effects on the global sea level rise.
Global warming is likely to be the greatest cause of species extinctions this century. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says a 1.5°C average rise may put 20-30% of species at risk of extinction. If the planet warms by more than 3°C, most ecosystems will struggle. Many of the world’s threatened species live in areas that will be severely affected by climate change. And climate change is happening too quickly for many species to adapt.
Polar bears - The Arctic is warming roughly twice as fast as the global average, causing the ice that polar bears depend on to melt away. The sea ice is melting earlier and forming later each year. This makes it more difficult for females to get onto land in late autumn to the den, and onto the sea ice in spring to feed. It means bears are fasting for longer - dramatically reducing their body weight and physical condition and making it harder for them to survive the summer season.
Adélie penguins - Adélie penguins are ‘true’ Antarctic penguins, meaning they spend most of their time in Antarctica. But climate change is reducing the amount of sea ice in parts of the continent. One of the Adélies’ main food sources, krill, breeds and feeds under the sea ice. Reduced sea ice means reduced food for the Adélie penguins.
Tigers - Tiger numbers in the wild have declined to as few as 3,200, largely due to poaching and habitat loss. Climate change is likely to result in increasing sea levels and further risk of fire in the already fragmented habitats where tigers live.
Asian rhinos - Greater one-horned rhinos live on floodplain grasslands in northern India and Nepal. They rely on the annual monsoon to bring sufficient and timely rain, to replenish the vegetation they feed on. But a changing climate could disrupt this seasonal pattern and bring regular droughts or floods.
African elephants - In Africa, changes in rainfall will either bring too much rain causing floods or too little rain bringing more drought and wildfires. These changes may cause some areas to simply become unsuitable for certain species to live in. African elephants can drink up to 225 liters of water each day, so changing weather patterns may mean they have to travel further in search of water - moving outside protected areas and coming into more contact with people.
Orangutans - For orangutans in Borneo – which are already at risk because of deforestation, forest conversion and illegal hunting – one of the first effects of climate change are likely to be food shortages caused by unusual rainfall patterns. They’re just one of the many species that will be affected.
Some species are already beginning to adapt. The color of some animals, such as butterflies, is changing because dark-colored butterflies heat up faster than light-colored butterflies, which have an edge in warmer temperatures. Salamanders in eastern North America and cold-water fish are shrinking in size because being small is more favorable when it is hot than when it is cold. In fact, there are now dozens of examples globally of cold-loving species contracting and warm-loving species expanding their ranges in response to changes in climate.
All of these changes may seem small, even trivial, but when every species is affected in different ways these changes add up quickly and entire ecosystem collapse is possible.
The intensity, frequency, and duration of North Atlantic hurricanes, as well as the frequency of the strongest (Category 4 and 5) hurricanes, have all increased since the early 1980s. The relative contributions of human and natural causes to these increases are still uncertain. Hurricane-associated storm intensity and rainfall rates are projected to increase as the climate continues to warm.
The length of the frost-free season (and the corresponding growing season) has been increasing nationally since the 1980s, with the largest increases occurring in the western United States, affecting ecosystems and agriculture. Across the United States, the growing season is projected to continue to lengthen.
In a future in which heat-trapping gas emissions continue to grow, increases of a month or more in the lengths of the frost-free and growing seasons are projected across most of the U.S. by the end of the century, with slightly smaller increases in the northern Great Plains. The largest increases in the frost-free season (more than eight weeks) are projected for the western U.S., particularly in high elevation and coastal areas. The increases will be considerably smaller if heat-trapping gas emissions are reduced.
Sea level rises
Global sea level has risen by about 8 inches since reliable record keeping began in 1880. It is projected to rise another 1 to 4 feet by 2100. This is the result of added water from melting land ice and the expansion of seawater as it warms. In the next several decades, storm surges and high tides could combine with sea level rise and land subsidence to further increase flooding in many regions. Ocean waters will, therefore, continue to warm and sea level will continue to rise for many centuries at rates equal to or higher than those of the current century.
Heat waves and droughts
Droughts in the Southwest and heat waves (periods of abnormally hot weather lasting days to weeks) everywhere are projected to become more intense, and cold waves less intense everywhere. Summer temperatures are projected to continue rising, and a reduction of soil moisture, which exacerbates heat waves, is projected for much of the western and central U.S. in summer. By the end of this century, what have been once-in-20-year extreme heat days (one-day events) are projected to occur every two or three years over most of the nation.
Warmer, polluted air affects our health
A warmer atmosphere increases the formation of ground-level ozone - also known as smog - in polluted regions. Smog irritates lungs and triggers asthma attacks. Smoke from wildfires further degrades the air. Extreme summer heat means more deaths during heatwaves. Warmer freshwater makes it easier for disease-causing agents (such as bacteria) to grow and contaminate drinking water.
A major threat for agriculture
Where, how and when we grow food is vitally connected to our climate's normal patterns. Worldwide, farmers are struggling to keep up with shifting weather patterns and increasingly unpredictable water supplies. Farms are more likely to face attacks from weeds, diseases, and pests, which reduce yield.
This global response occurred with just a 1 degree Celsius increase in temperature since pre-industrial times. Yet the most sensible forecasts suggest we will see at least an increase of up to an additional 2-3 degrees Celsius over the next 50 to 100 years unless greenhouse gas emissions are rapidly cut.
All of this spells big trouble for humans because there is no evidence that the same disruptions documented in nature are also occurring in the resources that we rely on such as crops, livestock, timber, and fisheries. This is because these systems that humans rely on are governed by the same ecological principles that govern the natural world.
Global climate is projected to continue to change over this century and beyond. The magnitude of climate change beyond the next few decades depends primarily on the amount of heat-trapping gases emitted globally, and how sensitive the Earth’s climate is to those emissions.