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Effects of Global Warming and Measures to Alleviate These Impact

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“I don’t want you to feel hopeful; I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel everyday”. These are the words of Swedish environmental activist Greatha Thunberg who along with environmentalist Loenardo Di Caprio have urged immediate action to the climate crisis. Their pleas have although fallen on deaf ears by world leaders and countries who remain oblivious to the effects of climate change. The ramifications of climate change have long been well highlighted, however, enough action is being taken to remedy the issues of global warming.

According to NASA Global warming is described as the long-term heating of Earth’s climate system observed since the pre-industrial period due to human activities, primarily fossil fuel burning, which increases heat-trapping greenhouse gas levels in Earth’s atmosphere. This term is often used interchangeably with the term climate change. Climate change, however, is a long-term change in the average weather patterns that have come to define Earth’s local, regional and global climates. Ever since the pre-industrial period, human activities are estimated to have increased Earth’s global average temperature by about 1 degree Celsius or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, a number that is currently increasing by 0.2 degrees Celsius or 0.36 degrees Fahrenheit per decade.

There are numerous effects that global warming has which include but are not limited to: rising sea levels, more potent and destructive hurricanes and rapidly increasing temperatures which causes heat waves, drought and wildfires.

Average sea levels have raised over 8 inches (about 23 cm) since 1880, with about three of those inches gained in the last 25 years. Every year, the sea rises another .13 inches (3.2 mm). As humans continue to dispense greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the oceans have alleviated the effect. The world’s seas have absorbed more than ninety percent of the heat from these gases. It is however taking a toll on the oceans. According to Carbon brief ocean heat content (OHC) set a new record in the first half of 2018, with more warmth in the oceans than any other time since OHC records began in 1940.

Flooding in low-lying and coastal regions are causing populations to relocate to higher ground and millions more are susceptible from flood threat. Some examples of areas affected by rising sea levels is Hellshire Beach, St. Catherine, Jamaica which isn’t much of a beach anymore as the sand has disappeared. Some businesses places have move further away from the waterline at least five times to evade impending dangers but as the ecosystem there changes daily, the sea continues to eat its way up the sand. Another country severely affected by this is the flattest country on Earth and is the dream tourist destination of many, the Republic of Maldives, which is extremely vulnerable to rising sea level. Anyone planning to take a trip here has to do so soon as it faces the very real possibility that the majority of its land area will be underwater by the end of this century.

Methods to combat rising seas levels include reducing future greenhouse gas emissions. This can be done by switching from fossil fuels to clean alternatives such as solar energy and wind energy.​ When the oceans absorb greenhouse gases it warms and expands thus increasing in volume and causes rising sea levels. Another method to combat sea level rise is by planting more trees. Trees absorb and store carbon dioxide which would lessen the need for oceans to absorb carbon dioxide.

Higher sea levels are related to more dangerous hurricanes and typhoons that move more slowly and drop more rain. According to the World Meteorological Organization the strongest hurricanes happening in some regions including the North Atlantic have increased in strength over the past two to three decades. For the continental United States in the Atlantic Basin, models estimate a 45-87 percent increase in the frequency of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes.

Warmer sea surface temperatures could intensify tropical storm wind speeds, possibly causing more destruction if they make landfall. Warmer seas similarly mean more precipitation. Rainfall rates during these storms are estimated to increase by about 20 percent and as revealed by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, this can sometimes be the more destructive impact.

Sea level rise is expected to make future coastal storms and hurricanes more detrimental. Globally averaged, sea level is projected to rise by 1-4 feet during the next century, which increases coastal storm surge. Sea level rise intensified the effects of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 which produced an estimated $65 billion in damages in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Much of this damage was related to coastal flooding.

Transportation is now the largest source of carbon emissions in the United States. Taking public transit, biking, or walking when possible can tremendously reduce global warming. Less vehicles mean less carbon emissions which means less heating of the oceans and Sdestructive storms and hurricanes.

Climate change has been a crucial influence in increasing the risk of wildfires in the Western United States. Wildfire hazard depends on multiple factors, including temperature, soil moisture and the presence of trees, shrubs, and other potential fuel. These factors have pivotal direct or indirect ties to climate change. Climate change causes forest fuels (the organic matter that burns and spreads wildfire) to be more dry and has doubled the number of large fires between 1984 and 2015 in the western United States.

In light of the Australian fires, scientists from the University of East Anglia (UEA), Met Office Hadley Centre, University of Exeter and Imperial College London have conducted a Rapid Response Review of 57 peer-reviewed papers published since the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report in 2013.

All the studies show correlation between climate change and increased regularity or severity of fire weather periods with a high fire threat caused by a combination of high temperatures, low humidity, low rainfall and often high winds.

Increasing global temperatures, more common heat waves and related droughts in some regions increase the likelihood of wildfires by encouraging hot and dry conditions, supporting fire weather.
Observational data illustrates that fire weather seasons have lengthened across almost 25 per cent of the Earth’s vegetated surface, causing about a 20 percent increase in global mean length of the fire weather season.

Dr Matthew Jones, Senior Research Associate at UEA’s Tyndall Centre and lead author of the review, said: ‘Overall, the 57 papers reviewed clearly show human-induced warming has already led to a global increase in the frequency and severity of fire weather, increasing the risks of wildfire.

‘This has been seen in many regions, including the western US and Canada, southern Europe, Scandinavia and Amazonia. Human-induced warming is also increasing fire risks in other regions, including Siberia and Australia.

Australian National University climate scientist Dr Imran Ahmed states that there is a direct link between climate change and the fires, explaining to the BBC that “what climate change does is exacerbate the conditions in which the bushfires happen.”

The According to BBC at least 33 people have been killed including four firefighters and more than 11 million hectares (110,000 sq km or 27.2 million acres) of bush, forest and parks across Australia has burned. It’s an environmental disaster never before seen in this nation’s history. More than one billion animals have been killed and the ones that are remaining their habitat has been destroyed. It is no coincidence that Australia suffered its most destructive wildfire in the same year that it recorded its highest temperature.

Although the forest fires in the Amazon of Brazil was started by loggers and farmers, the impacts of climate change as contributed to the tremendous destruction it has caused.

The impact of Global warming such as Wildfires can be alleviated by educating persons on essential need of the global response to climate change. It helps people understand and address the impact of global warming, increases “climate literacy” among people, encourages changes in their attitudes and behaviour, and helps them adapt to climate change related trends.

Reducing fossil-fuel such as using more mass transit, biking and electric vehicles can significantly reduce the likelihood of wildfires in the future. Less fossil fuels used decreases the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and thus less arid spells which wildfires need to thrive.

“Every week we’re seeing new and undeniable climate events, evidence that that accelerated climate change is here right now. These are the words of Leonard DeCaprio speaking at the United Nations Climate Summit and this is indeed true. Humans should be cognizant that their activities are jeopardizing the natural processes of the earth and future generations will be impacted by the decisions which are made today. There are more numerous impacts of global warming more significant than rising seas levels, more potent and destructive hurricanes and increasing wildfires. Countries and individuals need to address the issue of global warming so that the impacts can be reversed and preserve the natural habitats and endangered species which are left.

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