Climate change is real, and it’s affecting us all. From severe heat waves to extreme flooding, here are 8 negative effects of climate change. You’d wish it was all just a hoax… Number 8: Destruction of archeological sites We often think about how changes in the climate are threatening the lives of humans, animals, and plants on the planet. But we fail to realize that it’s not only the living that are affected by climate change. In fact, archeological sites – priceless windows to our past – are suffering as well. High sea waves are hitting Easter Island, the famous site of the moai – mysterious giant head-and-torso statues built by ancient Polynesians. The platforms supporting the moai are slowly being damaged by sea water, and if this continues, the monolithic figures might fall off and end up at the bottom of the ocean one day. Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado is also at risk, and is cited as one of the places most vulnerable to climate change in the US.
There are thousands of archeological sites here, constructed by the ancient Puebloans thousands of years ago. But rising temperatures have caused frequent wildfires, and with it the destruction of rock carvings. This also causes the exposure of new sites and artifacts that become vulnerable to erosion and flooding. These are just two examples of many priceless ancient artifacts and ancient archeological sites in the world that are at risk. Archeologists seem to be in a race against time to document and protect these places before they are gone forever. Number 7: Food shortages We’ve mentioned how climate change and global warming leads to drought, deforestation, and pest infestation. All of this combined causes one major problem – it inhibits the ability of farmers to grow food. In order to grow, crops need to be on fertile land, which becomes largely unavailable due to water shortages.
Food shortages have not occurred widely yet, and international trade will likely prevent any major famine to affect us soon – at least not in the near future. But at the rate we’re going, food prices will soon skyrocket, both due to shortages and the need for refrigeration when extreme heat waves come hitting. Third World countries on the other hand, have it harder. In less developed countries, drought equates to star facial and suffrage sing. Prolonged drought and conflict have left 16 million people across East Africa on the brink of star facial and in urgent need of food, water and medical treatment. Number 6: Rising CO2 levels Since the Industrial Revolution over 2 centuries ago, we’ve gradually been producing more and more Carbon Dioxide on a regular basis. With large scale industrialization and the burning of fossil fuels, we’ve put a total of 2000 gigatons of CO2 in the atmosphere, and about 40% of it has stayed there.
Humans have only been roaming this planet for a relatively short period, yet today’s CO2 levels are the highest they have ever been for millions of years. C02 is one of the main gases contributing to the greenhouse effect, the process by which radiation from the atmosphere heats the planet’s surface. The greenhouse effect is essential for supporting life on the planet, but its extreme intensification has led to global warming. Number 5: Global Warming Global warming – it is the main form of climate changing, and the 2 terms are even often used interchangeably. As of right now, the Earth is warming at a scary rate, 10 times faster than at the end of the Ice Age. Since we started measuring global surface temperature in 1850, each decade seems to surpass the previous, and that rate does not seem to be slowing down. This directly affects us in a number of ways, mainly in the form of drought and extreme weathers. Since the previous century, mega droughts have been appearing everywhere all over the Earth.
Rainfall has been scarce, farms get deserted, and lakes are drying up. Some lakes have even dried up completely, and are no longer existent. An example is Bolivia’s Lake Poopo, which was once its country’s second largest lake. The process of global warming brought increased temperatures to the region, and its evaporation rate multiplied exponentially since the 1990s. By December 2015, Lake Poopo had completely dried up, leaving only a few marshy areas. According to scientists, it is unlikely that it will ever recover. While some places are affected by drought, other places are more vulnerable to extreme weathers in the form of heat waves and storms. The frequency and duration of heat waves has increased greatly within the past half century, and are only going to get worse. Heat waves alone kill more people in the United States compared to natural disasters like tornadoes, earthquakes, and floods combined. Global warming also affects storm formation, by decreasing the temperature difference between the poles and the equator.
Some experts have found a correlation between global warming and the intensity of recent Atlantic Ocean tropical cyclones such as Katrina, Wilma, and Sandy. Number 4: Losing our forests Climate change affects all life on the planet, and this includes forest ecosystems, many of which have been destroyed indirectly by global warming. Bark beetles are major pests that feed and breed between the bark and wood of various tree species, damaging them in the process. These insects thrive in warm temperatures, and as a consequence of global warming, have expanded their ranges and proliferated widely in the forests of North America and Europe. Millions of acres of forest have been destroyed due to bark beetle infestation in recent years. Another cause of widespread deforestation is wildfire. While climate change does not directly cause trees to burn up, wildfires are generally the result of forests getting extremely dry.
Global warming lessens the humidity of forest areas, making them vulnerable to catch on fire. Forests in the western coast of USA, particularly in California, get set ablaze often during dry seasons. If rain fell more often, these forest fires would be extinguished much quicker. There has indeed been a notable increase in wildfires in California within the last decade compared to the decade before, meaning a correlation with climate change is very much likely, and would probably get worse with rising temperatures. Number 3: Insufficient energy to meet demands Since the dawn of mankind, people have learnt of various ways to keep themselves warm – from starting simple fires to creating electric-powered heaters. One of the main reasons for energy demand used to be heating, as people needed to survive long and chilly winters. But a global trend that started in the past century has seen a reversal, especially with the invention of cooling devices like refrigerators and air conditioners.
With the climate getting warmer and warmer, the demand for cooling has skyrocketed. With the increase in carbon emissions and the resulting hot temperatures, the demand for more energy to produce cooling is getting out of control. The worse thing is that this creates a neverending heat-producing cycle. More demand results in more power plants and cooling devices being created, which when used, emits more carbon that heats up the environment. Our only hope is the creation and use of clean energy sources that could keep up with the demands while breaking this vicious cycle. Research and development in solar power shows promise. On the other hand, hydro-electric power is expected to fall behind, as global warming and droughts have caused a decrease in river water levels. Without enough water flow, generators at the dams will not be able to provide energy.
Meanwhile, sea levels are rising, creating a potential risk of flood and storms that could cripple power generators along coastlines. This would disrupt power transmission to entire cities, and create a more desperate demand for energy. Number 2: Melting ice caps & rising sea levels Water covers more than 70% of our planet, and they absorb most of the heat added to the atmosphere. So it’s only natural that is where the extreme changes of climate change are seen. Sea levels around the world have been rising a 10th of an inch every year, and they’re already up 8 inches since 100 years ago. There are two reasons for this. One water expands as it gets warmer. Two, because glaciers, ice caps and icebergs are melting, so they add up to the ocean’s water volume. White sea ice is essential in reflecting sun rays back up into the atmosphere.
Without an ice layer, the dark ocean absorbs the heat rays, feeding the cycle forward. Summer sea ice in the Arctic has decreased a staggering 40% since just 40 years ago, making it the lowest in 1400 years. Antarctica is also experiencing a similar thing, with its western glaciers melting at an alarming rate. At this current rate, the oceans would be up a meter higher by the end of this century. Coastal settlements would be flooded, and many of them would become uninhabitable. And it’s not just cities, but entire nations are also at risk of being wiped off the map. The island country of Maldives is particularly endangered, and is at risk of being swallowed up by the ocean within the next few decades. Their leaders’ pleas to the world to cut global greenhouse gas emissions have been generally ignored, and they are already looking into purchasing new land from neighboring countries to settle their people in the future. Number 1: Animal extinction All the damages caused by climate change is not only affecting us humans, but nearly all the other species on the planet are also struggling to adapt to these changes that we have caused. A lot of animals, mostly birds, are seen beginning their seasonal migrations a lot earlier.
For instance, scientists have found that the Icelandic black-tailed godwits have started migrating 2 weeks earlier than normal to escape the summer heat. Some animals are moving away from their natural habitats towards cooler areas in higher elevations. The distribution patterns of Adelie penguins across Antarctica have also changed significantly. They are known to mainly feed on Antarctic krills, which are small crustaceans that stay under ice caps. But with fewer ice caps remaining, Adelie penguins find themselves in short of food supply leading to mass migrations. All this migration of various animal species is indeed a sign of the climate getting warmer every year. We have also seen a disturbing change within the behavior of several animals. The melting of polar ice in the summer has led to Polar bears channel arising their own cubs out of desperation in order to stay alive. The ocean is our planet’s largest carbon sink. With more Carbon Dioxide released into the atmosphere, more of it ends up dissolving into the ocean, causing a decrease in the water’s pH levels.
Although still far away from turning the ocean into acid, creatures with calcium shells are really sensitive to these slight changes. The ocean is on the course of hitting a pH level of 7.8 within a century, which would mean the end of about one third of the ocean’s species. The Orange-spotted filefish has already gone locally extinct around Japan due to extensive coral bleaching and hypersensitivity to warm waters. Some animal species have already gone totally extinct. The Golden toad that was once native to the forests of Costa Rica was last sighted in 1989, having likely all bite off due to high temperatures. They were known to mate in wet conditions, and the repeated dry seasons presumably ended their species..