Climate change is adversely affecting all parts of the earth. There has been a dramatic increase in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) since the industrial revolution of the 19th century. The planet warms faster as more GHGs are added to the earth’s atmosphere. With greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, other gases) continually added to the earth’s atmosphere, the earth continues to warm at an increasing rate. Unfortunately, much larger changes to the earth’s climate are projected. Here are 5 (of many different) categories of climate change, all of which increase adverse impacts to people and ecosystems.

Atmospheric Changes/ Global Warming

average global temperature rise (recent decades vs 1880-1920 mean)
average global temperature rise (recent decades vs 1880-1920 mean)

Global warming is primarily caused by GHGs from the combustion of fossil fuels. Essentially, rises in GHGs will continue to increase average global temperatures at a continuously higher rate; as the impacts and pace of global warming simultaneously accelerate. As the earth’s temperature rises, ocean temperature also rises, ocean acidification increases, and other adverse climate feedback loops are observed.

Consequences of global warming and related adverse climate feedback loops include increases in extreme weather events of all kinds; increased severity of hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones; disruption of weather patterns such as jet stream disturbances that send colder weather further south (a.k.a. ‘polar vortex‘); chaotic increases in rainfall and flooding in parts of the world, while simultaneously other distant parts of the world experience drought, heat waves, wildfires, and devastation to local agriculture; increases in toxic algal blooms; and extinction of wildlife species and ecosystems. Read more about global warming here.

Arctic Warming

Billions of tons of melting sea ice and glaciers are continuous year-round in Arctic warming, and the consequences have worldwide implications including rising ocean water levels. Icebergs and other smaller ice formations throughout the sea are melting due to global warming, in addition to glaciers throughout the world and Arctic; adversely affecting the lives of marine wildlife species and ecosystems. 

Marine Changes

Fish and marine wildlife species’ diversity ranges and distribution are changing – along with climate changes to the planet; rising sea levels due to melting glaciers & polar ice melt; composition changes in oceans, increasing the acidification of the planet’s waters. Marine changes have also affected coastal ecosystems and communities, causing them to face increasing exposure to storms and floods.

Wildfire Increases

Wildfires are forecast to continue to increase in frequency, duration, and range. Increasing global temperatures will increase the number and level of wildfires worldwide; while the increasing number of wildfires will, in turn, cause a continued increase in global temperature. This is a diabolical adverse feedback loop of increased atmospheric GHGs and adverse effects of global warming; a continuous circle of global environmental devastation.

Despite the seemingly unusual high frequency of the raging wildfires that took place recently, it is alarming that there are many more large wildfires predicted over the coming couple of years. In certain places (like California and Australia); warmer temperatures, drier land conditions, and extreme dry gusty wind, are expected to expand the length, and increase the intensity of wildfires.

Thawing Ground

Thawing permafrost will release large amounts of potent GHGs, such as methane, increasing global warming. Thawing ground is also likely to disrupt municipal building sectors, and other infrastructure on a regional basis; for regions where human activity and permafrost are both present. The recent Arctic fires are an example of an adverse climate feedback loop; the fires set loose significantly high amounts of the potent GHG methane that had been locked in permafrost; increasing global warming and the potential for more severe Arctic fires.

GHGs continue to increase on a global basis, accelerating global warming. However, concerned people, countries, and cities, can help limit the effects of climate change, as seen in the cases of Green City Times’ featured sustainable cities.

Please also see:

GCT’s Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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