Global Warming and the Future of the World’s Climate
Although hard to imagine, in less than a hundred years the US East Coast and other stretches of coastline around the world could be submerged underwater. Cites such as New York, New Orleans, and Houston could be swamped off the map as the waters of the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico overtook the previously dry land. The skyscrapers of the old downtown areas would become islands poking out of a vast sea of blue covering the roads and old infrastructure. Millions would be forced to relocate, but they would find that wherever they went the world would never be the same. Sweltering heat waves, monster hurricanes, and inundating floods will have become the new norm worldwide and the human population would struggle to survive.This could be a soon reality as because as stated by the wise words of Barack Obama, Climate change is no longer some far-off problem. It is happening here. It is happening now (Source F). Despite efforts to slow the process, global warming is a looming threat that already has done major damage to the world’s climate.
Multiple studies have proven that global warming has already negatively impacted different aspects of the world’s climate that are essential to many ways of life. For instance, the earth has already warmed about 2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880 when people started keeping records (Source C). This seems like a minuscule amount, but to put the temperature rise in perspective the heat being added to the atmosphere is similar to the amount released by 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs exploded daily on the surface of the planet (Source C). In addition, some of the world’s deserts such as the Sahara have expanded nearly 10% from a century ago due to factors such as reduced rainfall and droughts (Source H). These expanding deserts are one instance of how global warming has already affected the lives of a group of people which in this case live in Africa. Ultimately, the continued burning of fossil fuels and disregard for the obvious signs of climate change will likely create a bleak future in which the world’s climate and appearance will be comprehensively altered for life on earth. One future effect of global warming is that the temperature rise will threaten the world’s oceans through rising sea levels.
According to a study published in 2016, increasing temperatures could release ice in the two largest ice sheets in the world – Antarctica and Greenland – which speed up the rate of ice loss and lead to a 2-meter sea level rise by 2100 (Source A). Despite the fact 2 meters seems like an insignificant amount of water, this amount would still flood many coastal cities around the world and cost billions of dollars in damage to property and infrastructure. This threat could be knocking on the door soon enough to potentially affect current generations, and an increasing amount of greenhouse gases released into the air could expedite the rate of melting further. Albeit humans quickly end the pollution of the atmosphere, keeping global temperature rise below a 2 degrees Celsius increase, as agreed upon by the Paris Climate Accords, oceans would still rise 9 inches to 2 feet this century, according to a study by UMass (Source G). This fact proves that despite attempts to end global warming by world leaders, the fact of the matter is that humans have already done enough damage the atmosphere to instigate melting ice. The proposed 2 degrees celsius cut off by the Paris Climate Accords would still fail to make up for the destruction of past actions, and thus sea levels will still rise high enough to initiate flooding in many areas.
Moreover, global warming will lead to more extreme weather events and climate trends. For instance, the 2017 federal government climate report found that rainfall across the US has already increased 4% since the start of the 20th century (Source B). Overall warmer global temperatures result in hotter air and more lift in the atmosphere, which is a key ingredient for mass rain events. These rain events already lead to devastating floods today in low lying areas that are flood prone and have proven to be devastating to the local populations. Due to the fact, people are experiencing more extreme events already and there is no end in sight for global warming, it is easy to conclude that these events will become even worse in the future. In addition, researchers from World Weather Attribution found that a deadly June heat wave that blanked much of Western Europe was up to 10 times more likely in our current warming climate than in a simulated world in which there were no greenhouse gas emissions (Source E). More deadly heat waves like this will become even more common as the world warms. Heat waves will be longer, more intense, and could result in crippling droughts. Long droughts have the potential to destroy agriculture, meaning food shortages, mass starvation, and heat stroke will be more common in the imminent future for the world’s population.
Many politicians and skeptics point out that the Earth goes through long-term climate trends and there is no way to absolutely link recent climate events to the burning of fossil fuels. However, often these people disregard the scientific evidence in favor of defending capitalist principles and the economic value of fossil fuels. The Guardian reported that ExxonMobil, knew about the link between fossil fuels and global warming in 1981, but spent the next 27 years in denial and spent more than 30 million dollars on think tanks and researchers that promoted climate denial likely in order to keep their business afloat (Source D). Oil and gas companies around the world invest millions of dollars into defending their fossil-fuel interests and attempt to back any organization or person that will stand with them. Often these organizations make points suggesting scientists cherry-pick info to exaggerate the dangers of global warming, but the straight scientific facts show a threatening side in which the long-term trend also shows a changing planet.
In conclusion, the facts about global warming suggest a pressing threat to the world’s climate that looks to get worse in the near future and definitely affect some generations alive today. The damage humans have already caused is irreversible for the near future so humans should prepare to adapt to a changing climate. Nevertheless, these changes are not permanent and could be eventually reversed if the human race joins together to make ending global warming its number one priority.