The weather has warmed up significantly in Canada. It’s funny how I was just freezing to death the other day. One day it’s 15°C and it’s 38°C the next.
I can’t help but wonder if global warming is behind it. Because it is real and it is deadly.
But before I throw more stuff in your face, let’s stop for a moment. What exactly is global warming? It happens when greenhouse gases (like carbon dioxide, for example) collect in the atmosphere, absorbing solar radiation bouncing off Earth’s surface.
Image source: WWF
So where does this nasty greenhouse gas come from? Burning fossil fuels to generate electricity is the largest source, with the second-largest source coming from the transportation sector.
The Earth is getting hotter year after year. Global temperatures have risen between 0.4 and 0.8 °C over the past 100 years. However, global warming isn’t just about us being able to dance around in shorts and skirts longer. That’s just the surface.
“Half a degree C may not sound like much, but it makes a world of difference in climate impacts,” says Stanford University earth scientist Rob Jackson.
Models suggest that sea levels may rise 50 cm (1.6 ft) by 2100 if Earth continues to increase by 2°C. 50 cm! That would mean major flooding.
Rising temperatures have a huge impact on the environment. Fiercer heat waves, deadlier hurricanes, heavier rainfall, and longer droughts are only part of it. It affects us. It affects the animals and plants. It affects our Earth.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climate Monitoring Annual Report, 2015 was the hottest year on record in the U.S. It was also the third wettest, causing $1 billion in damage in the U.S. and killing 155 people. And the drought in California? It was worsened 5% by global warming, making it the state’s worst water shortage in 1,200 years.
Image source: USA Today
Exciting, huh? Yeah, here’s what else global warming can do:
- Melting glaciers will reduce our freshwater supply
- Rising sea levels will lead to coastal flooding
- New pests, heat waves, downpours, and increased flooding will affect agriculture and fisheries.
- Infectious disease outbreaks will spread because of favourable conditions to pathogens and mosquitoes.
And oh, yeah, the first mammal species has just gone extinct thanks to global warming. The Bramble Cay melomys had lost 97% of their habitat to rising sea levels.
I hope you see a problem. A huge one. Something that can’t be fixed unless we all pitch in. If we all just sit there and say: “Well, I’m just one person. I’m not causing it,” then we’d all be encouraging this problem.
You can help. Buy energy-efficient appliances (look for the Energy Star label). Take public transportation, carpool, or better yet, walk. Turn off you lights when you leave the room. Support eco-friendly policies and clean power generation.
Nothing is going to change unless we do something. We must be the change.
“2015 Was a Warm, Wild Year. What’s Next?” National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 2016. Web. 4 July, 2016. <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/01/160107-2015-second-warmest-year-us-climate-weather-global-warming/>.
“First Mammal Species Goes Extinct Due to Climate Change.” National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 2016. Web. 4 July, 2016. <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/06/first-mammal-extinct-climate-change-bramble-cay-melomys/>.
“Global Warming 101.” NRDC. National Resources Defense Council, 2016. Web. 4 July, 2016. <https://www.nrdc.org/stories/global-warming-101>.
“Global Warming: News, Facts, Causes, & Effects.” Live Science. Purch, 2015. Web. 4 July, 2016. <http://www.livescience.com/topics/global-warming>.
“Small Margins: How Half a Degree in Global Warming May Affect the World.” CBS News. CBS Broadcasting Inc, 2016. Web. 4 July, 2016. <http://www.cbsnews.com/news/climate-change-global-warming-half-a-degree/>.
“Why Half a Degree Matters: Higher Seas, Longer Heat Waves, Dead Reefs.” National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 2016. Web. 4 July 2016. <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/04/210416-climate-warming-degree-seas-reefs/>.