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What are the Effects of Global Warming?

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  • Written By: G. Melanson
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2016
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Although the degree to which global warming is a man-made crisis has been hotly debated, the effects of global warming are largely measurable. In addition to climate and geographic changes, modifications to our culture and government legislation are also included amongst the effects of global warming. Whether or not global warming is a preventable crisis, a natural stage in the earth’s evolution, or both, the issue has already made a significant impact on the way we live.

As its name would suggest, global warming entails an overall increase in the earth’s temperatures. The last few decades have featured the hottest temperatures on record since the latter-19th century, which is often cited amongst the negative effects of global warming. With these hotter temperatures comes the melting of ice and snow in even the coldest regions of the planet. Global experts warn that such effects could lead to a major ice sheet collapsing in West Antarctica or Greenland, resulting in the rise of sea levels and the subsequent flooding of millions of homes on coastal areas. Another potential result of melted ice sheets in Greenland is the interruption of currents which help Northern Europe retain its heat, creating a sudden and dramatic shift in temperature on the continent.

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Earthquakes, wildfires, and permafrost melting causing trapped methane gas are all predicted as potential effects of global warming. Global warming may have also played a part in Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans, Louisiana and parts of Mississippi in 2005. The increased intensity of hurricanes has been yet another consequence cited to the effects of global warming.

In 2006, the release of Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth drew mass public attention to the potentially disastrous effects of global warming. As a result of more attention being drawn to global warming over the last decade, North American culture has shifted to reflect the growing concern with the issue. Gas-guzzling automobiles, private jets, and other causes of excessive carbon dioxide emissions have become unfavorable symbols of ways in which society may be contributing to the effects of global warming. As well, many corporations have restructured their operations to reduce their own carbon footprint and re-branded themselves as more “earth-friendly” in order to appeal to the public.

At the government level, an international treaty known as the Kyoto Protocol has been designed to encourage countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon taxes have also been introduced as an incentive for organizations to reduce fossil fuel consumption. Although a reduction of fossil fuel consumption would help decrease the amount of greenhouse gas emissions on a temporary basis, it is not seen as a long term solution to the overall problem of global warming. Government groups have also attempted to alleviate the effects of global warming through campaigns which encourage citizens to use less electricity on an individual basis and opt for public transportation whenever possible.

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KoiwiGal
Post 3

@Ana1234 - I still think we can do something to turn it around. We make advances all the time, and even if we've managed to damage the climate, there's no saying that we can't find a way to undo the damage before too much permanent change occurs.

I get very frustrated when people talk about how we shouldn't have to change our habits because of climate change. I mean, really, pollution is generally bad for everyone, even if it doesn't cause global warming. Why wouldn't you stop if you could?

Ana1234
Post 2

@Fa5t3r - Global warming is going to be devastating for humanity, simply because most of us live by the ocean right now. There are going to be massive shifts in population and that is never easy.

But it's the environmental effects of global warming that are going to be the worst, because those will be impossible to change or make better.

One of the worst things is that we are going to lose the coral reefs and soon. The seas will simply become too hot for them where they usually grow and they don't grow fast enough to shift effectively. Not to mention that the oceans are also changing in chemistry because of pollution and climate, so even if coral reefs

could move to cooler oceans, soon there won't be anywhere they can survive.

That doesn't just mean we lose the reefs themselves. We will lose every fish and creature that uses the reefs during their life cycle. And this is only one ecosystem that will be destroyed.

We are going to end up with a barren place to call home.

Fa5t3r
Post 1

I actually had an interesting conversation with my friend's boyfriend the other day about global warming. I was bemoaning the fact that they have discovered that there is really no coming back from the fact that the oceans are going to rise about ten feet or so over the next couple of hundred years.

And his opinion was that it didn't really matter. As far as he was concerned, anyone who was foolish enough to get in the way of the effects of global warming deserved what they got. It wasn't as if the oceans were going to rush into vacant space immediately. I couldn't really find a good argument to get him to care. But he also seemed to think that there was nothing we could do to change it, because it wasn't man-made in the first place.

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