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In the 2st century, the phenomenon of global warming has been an issue of concern within various disciplines. A large number of world leaders have publicly called for immediate and collaborative actions to mitigate the observable effects associated with global warming. Scientists and environmentalist have been at the frontline in pointing out the dangers humans are exposing to themselves by engaging in acts that contribute to the progression of global warming. To understand the impacts of global warming clearly, it is important to analyze the observable changes in the climate, environment and human health.
In the past few decades, geographers have identified a consistent trend in the rising of sea levels, and numerous cases of glacier melts. In addition, there has been rising cases of sever rainstorms, droughts and above average temperatures in various parts of the world. The main aspect of climatic change due to global warming is changes in temperature. Scientists attribute the rise in the average level of the global temperature to increase in the level of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. Statistics from various environmental institutions show a consistent increase in the release of green house gases over the years. Environmentalists consider the rising instances of glacier melts in regions such as Greenland and Antarctica as an effect of the rise in global temperatures. Environmentalists attribute the rapid decline in the size of the Larsen B ice shelf to rising global temperatures. An event in 2002, in which a large section of the ice self collapse and disintegrated demonstrates the role of global warming in the melting of glaciers and thawing of ice. The high rate of decline in the polar cap as observed by NASA is another clear indicator of the impacts of global warming. In other areas such as the Arctic sea, ice the extent of ice coverage has been declining at alarming rates. For example, between 2005 and 2007 thousands of square miles of ice around the Arctic sea disappeared. Mathematical modeling of the impacts of global warming on sea-ice shows that unless there is implementation of measures to reverse the progress of global warming the Arctic sea will have lost all its ice cover by around 2040. Furthermore, these changes in temperature are responsible for the cases of rising sea levels that cause severe damages through floods. Environmentalists expect the rates of sea-level rise to keep increasing due to the impacts of thermal expansion of oceans. The rise in sea level will also result from increasing cases of melting glaciers and ice thaws. Reports show that in the 21st century, there has been a significant rise in seal levels in various parts of the world by between 4 and 8 inches. As global warming accelerates, the rise in seal levels will also increase. Modeling of changes in seal levels by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change illustrates an anticipated rise in seal levels ranging between 10 to 30 inches by the year 2100. This modeling assumes a gradual process, which is subject to change due to human activities. Greenland, which has experienced a massive decline in its total ice sheet, contributes about a quarter an inch in the rise of sea level every five years. If global warming persists and causes all the Greenland ice mass to melt, the sea level would rise by an estimated 21 feet (Philander, 2008). This would be a disastrous event with unimaginable consequences.
Global warming causes severe rainstorms, hurricanes and tornados through the influence of warm ocean water, which creates powerful tropical storms. Rising sea levels contribute to the high severity and destructiveness of these storms. An analysis of weather reports over the past 30 years shows a significant increase in cases of category 4 and 5 storms. The damages left behind by Hurricane Katrina provide a clear demonstration of the damages of global warming. Precipitation rates have been on the increase in the 21st century. These rates are higher in comparison to those recorded in the 20th century. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirms this trend by providing records that indicate an increase in the frequency of heavy downpours over the last two decades.
Rising global temperature have had negative impacts on the environment as demonstrated by rising incidences of drought and wildfires. High temperatures lead to high rates of evaporation, which causes the drying up of crops and natural vegetation. In addition, they create conditions favorable for the outbreak and spread of wildfire. Statistics on the prevalence of drought from WHO indicate that there has been a rapid increase in the frequency of droughts throughout the world due to worsening of climatic conditions. Instances of wildfire have also been on the increase with about 100,000 fires reported in 2006 (Bily, 2006).
The impacts of global warming on human health largely relates to increase in skin diseases due to ultra violet radiation, health waves, disease outbreaks and the aggravation of asthmas and allergies. Cases of skin cancer have been on the rise throughout globe while in France, heat waves caused the death of about 10,000 people. The rise in smog pollution is responsible for numerous respiratory problems and allergic reactions. Outbreak of diseases such as malaria and dengue fever are attributable to changing climatic conditions that favor disease carrying insects, pathogen contamination and food borne illnesses.
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A close consideration of the impacts of global warming highlights the need for collaborative efforts between individuals, organizations and governments to minimize the emission of greenhouse gases, which are the major cause of global warming.
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