Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

Impacts of Climate Change

“Taken as a whole, the range of published evidence indicates that the net damage costs of climate change are likely to be significant, and increase over time” – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The effects of climate change are already happening now. Glaciers have been shrinking, the ice that formed on rivers and lakes are breaking apart earlier than they used to, the ice of the sea in the arctic is melting, sea levels are rising and we’re experience longer and more intense heat waves. This is all due to anthropogenic causes, not natural. We caused this.

We’re causing endangered animals to become even closer to extinction. Polar bears are referred to as the poster animal for climate change, since the destruction of their habitat melting due to global warming. They aren’t the only species in the Arctic that are being threatened with extinction because of us. The entire Arctic ecosystem is being destroyed because of us.  The other species there, like copepods, seals, and walruses are having their home destroyed.


Figure 01: A polar bear on one of the melting ice caps in the Arctic   (Source)

Scientists have also said that climate change is wreaking havoc on many other species on the planet, with a variety of birds and reptiles that are sensitive to large changes in temperature. One of the primarily examples referred to by scientists, is the “Golden Toad”. The Golden Toad is usually found in central America, due to global warming, it has become extinct. This is only going to get worse with more animals becoming extinct unless we act now.

According to the third national climate assessment report, which is a report produced by the Global Change Research Program in the US, the follow long-term effects if we don’t act to stop global warming:

  • Temperature will continue to rise with a predicted global increase of 6 Celsius
  • The growing season, which is the period of time where plants experience the most growth, is expected to increase along with the frost-free season
  • Changes in precipitation patterns will occur, with some areas having greater rainfall, and other areas having less rainfall
  • More longer-lasting droughts are expected to occur, and heatwaves becoming more intense
  • The hurricanes are expected to become more intense, stronger & frequent.
  • Sea levels rising somewhere between 0.3 meters and 1.2 meters by 2100. To give some perspective, since record keeping began in 1880, it had only risen by 0.2m
  • The arctic ocean is expected to become ice free by 2050.
  • Animals (primarily birds) are starting to migrate earlier and earlier every year due to the warmer temperatures.

Figure 02: The potential future effects of what global warming can lead to. (Source)

The members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, have recently passed an agreement that aims to prevent these from occurring. This agreement is known as “The Paris Agreement”, is meant to signal the start of us protecting our planet & the future inhabitants.

References

Ault, T., Cole, J., Overpeck, J., Meko, D. and Pederson, G. (2014). Assessing the Risk of Persistent Drought Using Climate Model Simulations and Paleoclimate Data: Journal of Climate: Vol 27, No 20. [online] Available at: http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00282.1

CNN. (2014). 11 ways climate change affects the world. [online] Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/09/24/world/gallery/climate-change-impact/ [Accessed 28 April 2016].

NASA Global Climate Change (2016), Climate Change: Effects [online]
Available at: http://climate.nasa.gov/effects/

Polarbearsinternational.org. (2016). Climate Change | Polar Bears International. [online]
Available at: http://www.polarbearsinternational.org/about-polar-bears/climate-change

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3 comments on “Impacts of Climate Change

  1. clschult
    May 8, 2016

    A great introduction into the fact that Climate change is real and because of anthropogenic reasons. However it may have been nice to have bit of an insight as to why humans are the result of this. As in what is it about humans that have caused the climate to change? What did we do? What evidence is there to back this up? I really enjoyed the facts in dot form at the bottom of the blog which gave some great insight into the climate change prospective impact in the future.

    Like

  2. miggyn
    May 8, 2016

    I agree that climate change is bad. However with the ice caps melting now and animals habitats being destroyed are we not just speeding up the extinction of these animals? If we didn’t fasten this process, would these animals still become extinct? I’m a little curious about this. Because if they still die off, would speeding up a natural process be so bad? Or are we doing other things that cause climate change, that are also killing animals to the point of extinction in the wild?

    Like

  3. cmarino32
    May 11, 2016

    You make a fair point in saying that climate change is anthropogenic, and it is happening at an accelerated rate because of the human footprint. But I would like to put forward the argument that climate change indeed primarily a natural phenomenon, humans are just accelerating it.

    The earth goes through glacial cycles, and our last glacial maximum was approximately 20,000 years ago. Our sea levels were –140m as water was withheld in the ice at the poles. Previous glacial maximum before this occurred at 140,000 years ago and sea levels also were at –140m. Between 140,000 years and 20,000 years to present there was a natural decline in sea levels after a spike caused during interglacial periods( CSIRO,https://www.cmar.csiro.au/sealevel/sl_hist_intro.html.)

    Is this just history repeating itself? Signs are pointing to a natural cycle.

    Like

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This entry was posted on May 8, 2016 by in Geelong - Wednesday 3pm.

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