Environmental issues caused by global warming

Updated April 17, 2017

Global warming does not only mean a change in temperatures and climates around the world, but it also will cause serious change and damage to our environment. Most of the reasons for global warming are related to the way the population is living and working. By moving towards a more sustainable and greener way of life people can slow down and reduce the effects of global warming.

Rising Sea Levels

Rising global temperatures is already causing ice masses all over the world to melt. Ice around the North and South Poles as well as ice on mountain glaciers and large ice sheets are melting into the ocean. This means sea levels are rising and this rise has become particularly faster over the last century. It is predicted that sea levels will continue to rise up to 23 inches more by the end of this century. Land all over the world must make way for rising sea levels and this could see low-laying regions of the world in jeopardy and even being lost. Two islands that make up the Pacific nation of Kiribati are already submerged. Further increases put major cities such as London, New York and Bangkok at risk.

Loss of Ecosystems

A change in temperature within certain ecosystems can have a critical effect on the life of the species that inhabit it. In some cases, breeding cannot continue and species are unable to successfully relocate to other suitable areas. When they are able to relocate, the presence of non-native species puts a new pressure on that ecosystem which can put it out of balance. For example, predators introduced into a new ecosystem can mean the extinction of other species. According to National Geographic, researcher Bill Fraser found that since the 1980s the population of the Adelie penguins of Antarctica has declined from over 30,000 to around 11,000. This could be an ecosystem and species that is lost in future generations.

Reduced Food Production

Global warming has the potential to reduce food production through farming in a world with a growing population. A warmer climate provides a breeding ground for certain diseases and fungi that can attack and destroy entire food crops. Without cooler periods, certain plants are unable to complete a full growth cycle so inferior yet more expensive produce could be on the cards. A warmer environment also increases the risk of natural disasters such as hurricanes or major droughts, according to National Geographic. Both issues can destroy crops and the livelihoods of many.

Spread of Disease

Plants are not the only species that will be adversely impacted by disease with the continual rise of global temperatures, humans could be too. Rising sea levels combined with warm temperatures provide a breeding ground for diseases such as malaria which is spread by mosquitoes. Increased instances of natural disasters and the severity of them also means germs and disease will be easily spread in flood waters. Drinking water is also easily contaminated. The Quelccaya ice cap of Peru is melting and if continues at the current rate, it will be gone by 2100, National Geographic reports. This means thousands of people will be without clean drinking water making them more vulnerable to water born diseases.

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