Global Climate Change: The Consequences Of Global Warming

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Global climate change constitutes arguably the single most important threat to mankind. From the onset of the industrial revolution, greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), including carbon dioxide (CO2) have increasingly built up in the atmosphere, causing the climate to warm up slowly but steadily (IPCC, 2014). NASA predicts that 2016 will mark the hottest year on record. The effects of global warming are ubiquitous: Greenland’s glacier and the Arctic ice cap are melting, ocean levels are rising, occurrences of extreme weather are increasing, including hurricanes and areas of either intense drought or flooding. Collectively, these changes and their direct consequences are an imminent danger and they directly affect other urgent issues humanity is …show more content…

The ice from glaciers, the ice sheets and permafrost are already melting and will probably continue to melt at a higher rate in the future leading to rises in ocean levels (IPCC, 2014). Furthermore, it causes the emission of methane (also a GHG), stored mostly in the Arctic regions (Shakhova et al., 2007) which in turn leads to increased heat in the atmosphere, further aggravating climate change. GHGs cause the oceans to contain increasingly more acids, which damages coral reefs and negatively influences the amount of CO2 the ocean can absorb (IPCC, 2014). Weather conditions are becoming progressively extreme and a rise in floods, hurricanes and temperatures can already be measured and will further increase in the future (USGCRP, 2014). Weather incidents could destroy forests and swamps, which causes less CO2 to be absorbed naturally. These factors combined will probably further exacerbate climate change. As soon as the average temperatures are higher than 2C relative to pre-industrial levels, irreversible effects that presumably reinforce themselves will manifest (IPCC, 2014). Moreover, some researches even argue that a cap at 2C might be overly benevolent and would not prevent severe detrimental consequences (Hansen et al., …show more content…

Following the industrial revolution, it took industrialized countries more than 200 years to establish a living standard under which an environmental movement could emerge. Furthermore, the gap worldwide between the rich and the poor is widening (OECD, 2015). As a reaction, the growing population from developing countries understandably demands equitable living conditions compared to citizens in Europe or the United States. However, establishing higher standards of living is opposed to concentrating efforts on reducing emissions. As a result there will be decades of ever-increasing GHGs globally, currently primarily caused by developed countries and by developing countries in the

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