Climate change is happening now all over the world and impacting countries and people, with the poor getting the hardest hit.
Global warming will have catastrophic effects such as accelerating sea level rise, droughts, floods, storms and heat waves. These will impact some of the world's poorest and most vulnerable people, disrupting food production, and threatening vitally important species, habitats and ecosystems.
#1. Higher Temperatures
Global climate change has risen temperatures by approximately 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.4 degrees Fahrenheit) since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution due to greenhouse gas emissions. Hotter temperatures have led to rising sea levels, melting glaciers, vanishing Arctic sea ice, wildlife migrations, and more extreme weather among other impacts. In fact, greenhouse gas emissions have also led to ocean acidification which is imperiling many marine species, including the world’s coral reefs.
Recent research has also found that climate change may be shifting the jet stream, leading to extreme weather and unseasonable temperatures (both warm and cold) in the northern hemisphere.
#2. More droughts
Droughts are expected to keep getting longer and more severe. The U.S. Southwest is at particular risk for increasing droughts. A drought means there's less water available for drinking, watering crops, making electricity at hydroelectric dams, and other uses. For example, an ongoing drought in the U.S. Southwest is straining water supplies in states like Nevada and Arizona, where water is already scarce.
#3. Wilder weather
People around the planet should prepare for "unprecedented extreme weather," according to a report released by top international scientists and disaster experts. Earth's recent wild weather is likely just a sneak peek, the report warns, as rising global temperatures cook the oceans and atmosphere into a frenzy.
#4. Less Snowpack
Grinnel Glacier shrunk in area by almost 40% between 1966 and 2005. Photo: Morton Elrod
#5. Melting Glaciers
Larsen A and Larsen B ice shelves are long gone, breaking from the Antarctic Peninsula in 1995 and 2002 respectively.
#6. Shrinking Sea Ice
Wildlife biologist Ian Bullock says shrinking areas of sea ice are forcing polar bears into smaller areas and more intense competition.
#7. Thawing Permafrost
Since permafrost with the highest ice content is usually found closer to the surface, where our structures are, Alaskans and other arctic communities face major changes in the future if the degradation continues. Ecosystems, buildings, roads and pipelines will likely lose their stability as the ground beneath them shifts.
#8. Increased Ocean Acidity
The ecological and biological impacts of ocean acidification are vast and serious. Acidic water dissolves the shells and skeletons of clams, corals and many of the tiny creatures at the base of the marine food chain like plankton, thereby affecting entire marine ecosystems. Acidified water also can kill fish eggs and a wide range of marine larvae. Some scientists predict that this unprecedented pressure on marine life like shellfish and lobsters could eventually cause widespread extinctions. Within decades, the chemistry of many tropical oceans will not be able to sustain coral reef growth.
Additionally, acidity levels in polar oceans are projected to reach corrosive levels sufficient enough to dissolve some shells and other calcareous marine organisms. Although acidic water does not affect humans directly (i.e. through touch or consumption), the related marine effects will have a negatively impact our natural resources, economy, and leisure activities.
#9. Warmer Oceans
Global ocean temperatures have soared to the highest level in recorded history this year, and the rate of warming has accelerated since April, 2014, according to scientists with the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The temperature trend in the Pacific has shifted hurricane tracks, weakened trade winds, and bleached corals around the Hawaiian Islands.
#10. Rising Sea Levels
Setting aside debates about climate change, it's no secret that sea levels are rising in New Jersey. Some Research scientists at Rutgers University expect sea levels to rise 17 inches by 2050 and 44 inches by 2100.
This means that, as time goes on, more and more low-lying coastal areas will be completely underwater. Effects will be magnified during storm events, increasing the severity of flooding in coastal and bay areas. By 2100 Atlantic City, for example, is predicted to experience floods every year or two as severe as those that today happen only once a century.