Temperatures to increase alarmingly fast in the future

By on January 7, 2014

Global warming is an unavoidable truth for most people.  Yet, not everyone believes that climate change is a result of human actions. Regardless of personal beliefs, however, one fact is clear: Earth’s climate is changing drastically.  Recently, a few studies have attempted to show just how great this change might be.  According to one study lead by Professor Steven Sherwood at the University of New South Wales, the temperature increase by the year 2100 will be around 4°C, or 7.2°F.  Other sources predict an outcome not quite as bleak.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States will see a temperature increase between 4 to 7°F, while NASA predicts an increase of about 8°F.

Sherwood’s study seems to be an outlier, an alarming one to say the least.  The truth is that no one knows exactly how much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions are going to increase.  While different models attempt to speculate the changes that the planet may see, there will be extraneous factors that these models cannot possibly predict.  Nonetheless, if these reports are even close to true, the planet is in big trouble.  But none of this should come as a surprise. Climate models analyzing temperatures over the past few centuries show that temperatures having been increasing quite rapidly.

Increasing temperatures seem dangerous, but what are the ramifications of continuing increases in temperature?  For starters, the landscape of the poles is changing irreversibly.  Sheets of ice collapse into the chilly waters daily.  The species that live in these regions can only survive for so long before they can no longer adapt to their ecosystems.  Any species that live in oceans or rivers will also be fighting for survival.  A 4° to 8°F increase (as predicted by most sources), does not seem to be a big deal for humans, but to many species, this means their end.  Also, natural disasters have become stronger and are occurring with a higher frequency.  Tornadoes, hurricanes, and tsunamis have devastated countless homes and communities.  Of course, there are some upsides to global warming, such as a longer growing season for farmers close to the poles.  But the threat to several many ecosystems and the continuity of a large number of species outweighs the few benefits.

A question that arises is what is being done about global warming? The first step is probably for everyone to unanimously acknowledge that global warming is a problem that affects every citizen of the planet.  Until that happens, a plan of action to slow the warming of the planet seems unlikely.

Natasha Mehra, Contributor

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